Tap to inquire

Why are Gorillas Poached in Africa, Hunted for their Hands?

Why are gorillas poached? Mountain gorillas are poached for so many reasons and we look at a number of them in this article. These endangered primates live in central Africa; in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo in particular. They almost got extinct in the 19th century and based on the mountain gorilla poaching statistics, so many gorillas had lost their lives in the hands of poachers. Mountain gorilla poaching in Africa had been going on for long.

Why are Gorillas Poached?

The conservation efforts from fallen Dian Fossey, an American primatologist lead to their increase in numbers. Fossey dedicated her life to the conservation of mountain gorillas which later led to her death in 1985. She highly condemned the act of gorillas being poached. Gorilla poaching in Rwanda used to be massive before Fossey’s emergence but when she breathed her last, conservationists saw the importance of conserving these primates. They took on the conservation wheel from her.

Gorillas move in groups of 5-30 individuals led by a dominant alpha-male called a Silverback. When you go gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo, you will notice this. The silverback controls all the group activities and dictates that they are supposed to do daily.

Gorillas move all day looking for food before they sleep in nests they make daily at 6 pm. Unfortunately, so many things happen during their mobility. Some of them get poached along the way. Gorillas have also gotten gorilla poachers killed in a bid to defend themselves and their family.

National Geographic Gorilla Poaching Video

Reasons why gorillas are poached

There are so many reasons why gorilla poaching takes place. Much as the practice has reduced, it still exists. Conservationists have just made it hard for poachers to get to these gorillas in their natural habitat. The most prone usually get out of their territories. See some of the gorilla poaching reasons below.

For meat. This is one of the main reasons why gorillas are poached. Poachers hunt them for meat to feed their families. Even the militia groups that reside within the Virunga Conservation Area on the Dr Congo side survive on gorilla meat.

Bushmeat trade. Gorillas have also been used for the bushmeat trade. It’s said that gorilla meat is very expensive so poachers try their best to kill this endangered species of primates to sell the meat and earn large sums of money. Regular consumers claim the meat is delicious and demand high for it.

Magic and charm. Gorillas are killed for magic and charm. Some parts of mountain gorillas like hands, heads, and legs are believed to be used by some witchdoctors for powers. The belief by the traditional healers has continuously led to the poaching of mountain gorillas. This is one of the lesser known gorilla poaching facts. This was one of the main reasons for gorilla poaching in Uganda.

For pets. Gorillas are also poached, abducted and sold illegally as pets to rich tycoons abroad, private zoos and researchers. Many locals have joined the poachers in their merciless act as they see large sums of money earned from the act.

Traps. Sometimes gorillas are unintentionally poached. They accidentally get trapped in snares set for other animals in the forest like antelopes, duikers, bush pigs, bushbucks and many more. Gorillas are so mobile hence, very prone to such traps.

Trophies. Gorillas are sold for trophies. Some people keet dead gorillas to show off as trophies or power. This satisfies their ego.

Other Factors

As per mountain gorilla poaching facts, sometimes gorillas lose their lives accidentally. Apart from the reasons mentioned above, gorillas are also subject to death due to some other lesser-known factors. See some of the reasons below.

Lack of awareness. Sometimes gorillas get poached by locals because they lack awareness about the importance to the society or country at large. The locals rather feel threatened and end up killing gorillas to stay safe. The locals need to be educated about the importance of mountain gorillas and perhaps they will stop hunting them. They will instead call the concerned authorities to intervene in case of any threats.

Diseases. Gorillas are very vulnerable to human diseases. Its worse for gorillas because they do not have the necessary immunities like humans hence, succumb to illnesses most of the time. This is the main reason why any sick visitors cannot be allowed to visit gorillas. Authorities fear that they can easily transmit diseases to gorillas and they die in large numbers.

War and civil unrest. Though the countries are now politically stable, there used to be civil wars in Rwanda and Congo that claimed the lives of many mountain gorillas. Rwanda gorilla trekking is now safe but Congo gorilla trekking is still unsafe. The unrest in Congo is still in place to date. Rwanda is much safer.

Natural disaster. Natural disaster is one of the lesser threats to mountain gorillas. Some of these disasters include landslides, floods, heavy downpour and more.

Habitat loss. The growth of human population has grossly caused habitat loss for gorillas. This has pushed gorillas to migrate to higher elevated areas, which is dangerous to their health because they acquire diseases like pneumonia and die. People clear forests for agriculture, settlement, industrial purposes, among many other factors.

Oil and gas exploration. Oil and gas exploration has mainly affected Virunga National Park in Congo. This park spans the largest of the Virunga Conservation Area. Contractors have been granted permission for exploration concessions. This is likely to increase the risk of poaching and the transmission of diseases to gorillas.

Illegal gorilla poaching has been going on for decades. So many measures have been put in place to stop gorilla poaching and the act has gradually reduced.

Mountain Gorillas are habituated before they are made available for tourists to visit and observe for a period of one hour. A gorilla trekking permit costs $600 in Uganda, $1500 in Rwanda and $400 in Congo. Uganda is the only country of the three that offers gorilla habituation experience and this involves joining researchers and scientists in gorilla habituation experience. Book your gorilla trip with us today for the very best experience.

Gorilla FAQs & Information

  1. Why Can’t You Look or Make Eye Contact with a Gorilla?
  2. Why Silverback Gorillas Fight
  3. Importance of Mountain Gorillas
  4. What to do when a gorilla charges on you
  5. What is The Largest Species of Gorillas?
  6. What is a Group of Gorillas Called?
  7. What is the Mountain Gorillas Role in The Ecosystem?
  8. The Mountain Gorilla Defense Mechanism
  9. How to Provoke/Annoy a Gorilla
  10. How Gorillas Greet Each Other
  11. Do All Gorillas Become Silverbacks?
  12. Do Gorillas like Humans
  13. Do gorillas Eat of Kill Their Babies?
  14. Do Gorillas Eat Humans?
  15. Can you Tame a Gorilla
  16. Can you Own a Gorilla?
  17. Do Mountain Gorillas live in Families & Groups?
  18. How to Protect & Save Mountain Gorillas
  19. Why Gorillas Are So Strong
  20. How Many Humans Does it Take to Beat a Gorilla?
  21. How do you call a Baby Gorilla?
  22. How Do Gorillas Sleep?
  23. How Mountain Gorillas Communicate
  24. The Gorilla Life Cycle
  25. Do Gorillas drink water?
  26. Are Gorillas friendly & gentle to humans?
  27. Why do Apes, Gorillas beat their chest & sound hollow?
  28. Gorilla Threats: Why Mountain Gorillas were endangered?
  29. Why were Mountain Gorillas going extinct?
  30. What is a Silverback Gorilla?
  31. Gorilla Species: Different Kinds/Types of Gorilla & Breeds
  32. Mountain Gorilla Diet
  33. Mountain Gorilla Size, Average Height & Weight Measurements
  34. Natural Mountain Gorilla Predators
  35. Mountain Gorilla Population
  36. Lifespan of Mountain Gorillas
  37. Mountain Gorilla Natural Habitat
  38. Mountain Gorilla Conservation Efforts
  39. Mountain Gorilla Behavior
  40. How to Survive a Gorilla Attack on Humans
  41. Are Gorillas Dangerous to the People
  42. How Gorillas Adapt to Rain-forest Environment
  43. Interesting Facts about Mountain Gorillas in Africa
  44. Traits, Qualities & Characteristics of Mountain Gorillas
  45. How Strong is a Silverback Gorilla?
  46. Best Place to See Mountain Gorillas in Africa
  47. Uganda Gorilla Families
  48. Rwanda Gorilla Families
  49. Congo Gorilla Families

Book your dream safari below.


    Your Name


    Your Email

    WhatsApp Number

    Length of Tour

    No. of People

    Date of Travel



    Special Requests

    How did you find us

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Featured in:

    Do you need to visit multiple destinations or need to customize a trip to match your interests? We are very open to this and are willing to help. Kindly click to inquire below to navigate to the detailed booking page.

    National Geographic
    Gorilla Doctors
    Dian Fossey
    Dian Fossey
    Fauna & Flora
    Uganda Safari Guides Association
    Uganda Wildlife Authority
    Uganda Wildlife Educational Center
    Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities
    Tourism Uganda

    Why you should choose us?

    We are beautiful one day and perfect the next! Book with us and book it out of here!


    Who we are

    We are a passion-drive travel agency that will make you love Africa even more than us.

    Read more

    Booking with us

    We offer very flexible booking terms that you'll love. We make it easy for you to book or reschedule your trips.

    Read more

    Our promise to you

    We promise you make you fall in love with Africa through our tailor-made safari holidays

    Read more

    Values & commitments

    We are commited to offering you the best service as possible. Your experience & comfort always comes first.

    Read more

    Our cause

    A small portion of our profits proceeds towards supporting single mothers in local communities.

    Read more

    How we work

    To offer a more rewarding way to travel, we do stuff the right way; right from the planning process.

    We pay attention

    We will spend time and pay attention to your expectations, then propose an experience that you might like.

    We complement

    Next we will discuss our selected options, point out the best safaris for you and make awesome recommendations.

    We hold your booking

    We will tentatively hold your booking and make reservations while we talk through the safari details or make changes.

    Speak to an expert to start planning your African safari holiday...

    Give a call to one of our specialists or arrange a video meeting/session for awesome ideas and safari advice.

    +256 787 23 0575
    Eddie Safari Guide
    Ronnie Safari Guide