What does the Future hold for the Mountain Gorilla?
Since humans first discovered mountain gorillas just 100 years ago, population numbers have diminished drastically with experts believing that they would not make it through the twentieth century. A combination of war, habitat loss, diseases and poaching has tipped these primates over the edge, on the brink of extinction.
Today mountain gorillas are limited to two protected pockets of the forest in Africa; the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the Virungas mountain region, a range of extinct volcanoes that border the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. They have become constrained to limited land as more people move closer to the remote mountain regions, destroying their habitat to use wood for fuel and to cultivate their crops. Somewhat 100,000 people now reside in the mountain regions near these gorillas, making it one of the most densely populated areas in Africa.
However with a combination of conservation efforts, public awareness and tourism, mountain gorilla population numbers have slowly yet steadily started to increase. In 1991 there were said to be just 620 mountain gorillas in the wild, today this number has increased to 880. This reinforces the fact that with combined efforts wildlife can yet again thrive and numbers can be restored. Although mountain gorillas have seen positive growth, there still lie further challenges ahead with them being classified as critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Conservation organisations have teamed up with the Protected Area Authorities of the three countries (Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda) to continuously work hard on ensuring that these primates’ pockets of land remain protected and undisturbed. One of the highest sources of revenue that helps support them in their conservation efforts is, in fact, tourism. Without carefully managed tourism the future will sadly look very bleak for these gentle giants.
If you would like to volunteer in Uganda, Congo or Rwanda and combine a day trip to see these critically endangered primates please visit the volunteer jobs section of our website.