As mountain gorillas are usually hunted for bushmeat, they are frequently injured or killed by traps. It's most disturbing they are hunted and killed for hands, feats and even heads, which are sold to collectors. Infants are sold for research, as well as taken for pets or put in captivity at zoos. Young gorillas selling for $1,000 to $5,000 on the black market. These are just a few reasons mountain gorillas have faced the precipice of extinction.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Dian Fossey, who died a couple of decades back, would be shocked that there are any mountain gorillas left at all. Alarmed by rising increased in poaching and deforestation in central Africa, she had predicted these majestic animals could become extinct by the year 2000.
Instead, a conservation campaign has given new life to these great apes, which share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans. Last fall, the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the threat level of mountain gorillas from “critically endangered” to “endangered.
However, important to note, this would not have happened without efforts that some biologists call “extreme conservation.”
Go to the numbers . . .
Ten years ago, there were only 680 mountain gorillas in the wild. Today there are just over 1000 which are evenly split geographically in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. This number is ray of hope since the mountain gorillas are a slow-breeding species.
“The population of mountain gorillas is still vulnerable,” says George Schaller, a biologist and gorilla expert. “But their numbers are now growing, and that’s remarkable.”
Steps to fight extinction
“We’re another step closer to achieving healthy, stable populations of mountain gorillas thanks to extraordinary commitment from so many dedicated people,” said Bas Huijbregts, African species manager at the World Wildlife Fund US.
“That said, mountain gorillas remain endangered and dependent on concerted conservation efforts," noted Huijbregts.
“The good news is these efforts are working,” he added. “Continued focus on community engagement, prevention of disease transmission and law enforcement can give mountain gorillas a greater chance at survival. These efforts are a shining example for so many other species in need of global concerted conservation action."
Sanctuary facilities were set up for the gorillas to roam without human intervention, police campaigns and reduced poaching. There was also a concerted effort in dispatching veterinarians to tend to the animals on a continual basis, according to the Associated Press.
“In the context of crashing populations of wildlife around the world, this is a remarkable conservation success,” Tara Stoinski, president and chief scientist of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, told the Associated Press.
“This is a beacon of hope — and it’s happened in recently war-torn and still very poor countries,” said Stoinski, who is also a member of the IUCN’s primate specialist group, which recommended the status change.
Recovery is also due to ecotourism, a model that can be replicated for other animals facing extinction around the world. Rather then stripping animal habitats of resources, governments can create thriving tourism businesses that maintain the integrity of these habitats.
“Primate ecotourism, done right, can be a really significant force for funding conservation,” asserted Russ Mittermeier, chief conservation officer at Global Wildlife Conservation. “It gives local governments and communities a tangible economic incentive to protect these habitats and species.”
Help the Mountain Gorilla
One of the most effective ways to help mountain gorillas is to donate funds to the various organizations assisting the effort. This includes Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and other that have deployed effective methods to protect mountain gorillas, and mostly rely on grants and donations to fund their work.
Donations can be made through the Gorilla Doctors' website. Please help by donating, dear readers. Collectively, we can make difference.
Primary Source: APNews