MOUNTAIN GORILLAS AND THREATS THEY FACED
Mountain gorillas were classified as an endangered species due to human encroachment. Forest clearance and degradation due to growth of human population threatened the Gorilla beringei beringei. People cut down the forest for infrastructure development, constructions, cut down the trees for firewood, livestock grazing and agricultural purposes. Mountain gorillas lost their habitat because of the above impacts (5). Mountain gorillas were also hunted and killed and their parts such as hands, heads were sells to the tourists. On going threatened to Gorilla beringei beringei include diseases such as ebola virus and polio. Ebola virus killed gorillas in Odzala National Park (DRC) and the scientists are fear that the virus could infect the remaining species within next five years (6).
Scientists estimated that approximately 5,000 of gorillas were killed in central Africa by bola virus (7). Scientists say that they will use natural barriers to stop the spread of virus and they hope that they will find the cure of this virus. They also think that taking healthy gorillas away from the virus zone will save many lives (6). Poachers trapped and killed mountain gorillas using the snares for their survival (5). The war between government security forces, rebels, and militia threatened the mountain gorillas in Virunga area (4). Rebels and militias in Virunga National Park invaded and killed gorillas for the meat. During the fight, rebels killed about 97 government security forces (rangers) in 1996. Killed rangers were trying to stop non –official armed (rebels and militia) from killing the gorillas and cutting down the forest. Congo conservationists fear that rebels and militias will butcher the remaining mountain gorillas because they are at risk (8).
Although the Gorilla beringei beringei are heavily protected in Virunga Park, the scientists also believe that their future remains uncertain. Scientists also encourage the communities to slow down the commercial bush meat and dedicate their lives to protect endangered species. Monitoring further research about mountain gorillas is necessary because peoples still had taboos against eating gorillas. Therefore, people are also encouraged to buy certified wood from the logging companies that have certificates to support illegal bush meat hunting. Although mountain gorillas population seems to have increased by 17% in 2003 by scientists since 1989 after the launch of mountain gorilla project (9, 10), it does not mean that they are no longer endangered.
I am concluding by saying that mountain gorillas are still in critical endangered as World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red list of endangered species indicated. Mountain gorillas and their habitat need protection. Local people need education about the ecological as well as economical values of unique heritages because “the bush meat crisis is the complex problem involving politics, economics, logging, population, culture, ethics, and imbalanced interactions between the developing and developed world”(9), so an awareness education is really needed to save an endangered mountain gorillas. The best way is to support any conservation effort. African Wildlife Foundation program hope that mountain gorillas can be saved if people adopt them. So people who will adopt the gorillas, they will show that they support the recovery effort of Gorilla beringei beringei. In addition, a bush meat project has been established to support companies that will help the people around Virunga conservation area to protect endangered species and its natural habitat. If you are interest to view the image of Virunga Conservation area, I have linked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) site (11).
1. Taylor H. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.2000. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 8]. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/39994/all
2. Anonymous. “Endangered mountain gorillas.” 2005. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 12]. Available from:
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5. Anonymous. Mammals: Gorillas.2007 [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 12]. Available from: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-gorilla.html
6. Owen J. Ebola Flares in Western Gorilla, Chimp stronghold. 2005. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 12]. Available from:
7. Wikipedia contributors. Gorilla. The free encyclopedia.2007. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 12]. Available from:
8. Reed J. Rebels kill, eat endangered mountain gorillas. 2007. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 8]. Available from:
9. Walker R. Mountain Gorillas escape poachers. 2004. [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 12]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3407831.stm
10. Bowman K, Rose A. The Gorilla Crisis Wildlife Values Education Project Enhancing Attitudes Toward Conservation. 2007 [Online]. [Cited 2007 March 14]. Available from: http://www.great-apes.com/papers/gcwv.htm
11. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Gorillas in the Midst of Extinction.2006 [Online]. [Cited 2006 March 2007]. Available from:
Lizzy Masingita Maluleke
NISL- Ecological Informatics
P O Box 395