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.
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.
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.