Endangered Gorillas

11th June 2010

The Gorilla is today one of the most endangered species. Some of the reasons for this are human made while few are natural. Their population is fast dwindling. According to scientists, there are only about fifty thousand gorillas left in the African wild. There are just about two thousand five hundred eastern low land gorillas and about six hundred mountain gorillas in the world. The Mountain gorillas are on the verge of extinction.

One of the major reasons responsible for the endangered Gorillas is an increasing loss of habitat. They are primarily terrestrial and live in the tropical rain forests. They are mainly found at the fores edges, clearings, swamps, abandoned fields and wet low land forests. They have been thought to have lived on trees in their evolutionary pasts.

Gorillas are always projected as violent beasts. However, gorillas are not violent and in fact very friendly. For example, Gorillas are nowhere near how they are portrayed in the popular culture in movies and series like 'King Kong' and 'Tarzan'. The only time Gorillas do get angry is when their families are threatened, especially their kids. It is at this time that they rise and thump their chests. Unfortunately, this antic purports them as being violent and therefore results in them being hunted.

With the slow dwindling of greenery and forest cover around the world, the Gorilla is slowly losing its natural habitat. The endangered species of Gorillas live about fifty years in captivity and their life span in the wild is about thirty five years.

Another reason for the endangerment of gorillas is the ever-classical poaching. Gorillas are poached for bush meat or gorilla meat and for other purposes. Gorillas, like tigers are also sometimes hunted for circus use. It is also difficult to maintain exactly how many gorillas are poached, because the poachers kill and butcher the gorillas at the spot. Gorilla meat is considered as illegal, though it does not come under the mandate of CITES.

Gorillas have also been the victims of political unrest. Physical violence in the Great Lakes region in Africa is responsible for the deaths of many Gorillas. During the early nineties, people from Rwanda escaped from their villages and camped in the Virunga National Park. They were forced to harvest firewood from the forest and also killed gorillas in their struggle for survival.The mountain gorillas also suffered during this violence. As many as four silver backs were killed during the violence.

Gorilla tourism is one concept which has worked for bringing back the Gorilla. The Diane Fossey's Mountain Gorilla Project has revamped the Gorilla Tourism in Rwanda. In fact, the project was so popular that Gorilla Tourism was the largest earning potential for the country for a while. The project concentrated on tourist development, conservation education and park development. The program also taught the local people about the economic advantages of saving primates.

Another major reason of Gorillas being an endangered species is human ailments. Gorillas are very averse to ailments like measles, mange and intestinal parasites. Since the Gorillas interact with humans, they become more susceptible to such illnesses and diseases. In the year 2004, several hundred Gorillas had died due to an outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus in the Odzala National Park in Congo. A recent study has shown that almost five thousand Gorillas may have died in recent outbreaks in the Congo region.