Why Are Gorillas Poached : Poaching of gorillas has been in existence for a number of years but it’s of recent in the 20th century when the poaching has been extensive to the extent that mountain gorillas are critically endangered and on verge of vanishing. It’s of recent in 2018 mountain gorillas have left the list of the critically endangered to be referred to as endangered species.
Gorillas are ground dwelling and herbivorous apes that inhabit in the thick forests of Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species the western gorillas and the eastern gorillas [gorilla berengei]. The eastern gorillas are further divided into four subspecies that is the eastern lowlands, western lowland and the popular mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are found in the Albertine Rift montane rainforests in the virunga conservation area and Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The virunga conservation area comprises of the virunga national park of Democratic republic of Congo, volcanoes national park of Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National park of Uganda. The lowland gorillas are found in the Virunga national park and kahuzi Biega national park in Congo. The western lowland gorillas are found in the western African countries only.
Therefore there are number of reasons why the gorillas are being poached such as food, wild meat trade, private trophies collection and traditional medicines among others. However the following are the reasons;
FOOD; mountain gorillas are being poached for food because some of the people eat gorilla meat and it’s meant only for the wealthy people. Before the conservation of the mountain gorillas, some locals depended on gorilla meat as food and others eat the meat during the times of war in their home area. Besides the bush meat, the sellers of the gorilla meat earn from it so they poach it to earn some income. Thus for people who are money hungry, this becomes a great deal and opportunity for them.
MEDICINE; The gorillas are poached because they are a medicine to some locals living around the national park and those who believe in the traditional healings. Thus the apes are poached generally to be used in the traditional activities by the traditional healers who use some parts of the mountain gorillas as charms or magic.
STRENGTH AND POWER; Mountain gorillas are looked at as the king of the jungle and it symbolizes strength and power to some locals. Therefore some believe that when they hunt the mountain gorillas it will show strength and will be much respected among their fellow peers.
KEEPING THEM AS PRIVATE COLLECTIONS; Gorillas are strong animals that were feared in the land and most of the people killed them to show their strength and keep their body parts as evidence that they did so. Therefore hunters would hunt them down and make private exhibitions like zoos. So some keep them as pets though it’s un common due to their sizes and need a lot of care to adulthood. Most of them die due to lack of proper care.
MISHAPS; Mountain gorillas are being poached due to mishaps where poachers set traps for small game like antelopes and baby gorillas fall prey of the traps which leave them wounded and if not helped quickly they end up dying.
IGNORANCE; The ignorance of the local people living in the nearby community don’t see any value of conserving the mountain gorillas but with continued efforts of the park authorities, the community has been enlightened and the cases are reducing day by day.
Many gorillas lose their lives daily and countries like Rwanda and Uganda have stepped up conservation efforts have started seeing an increase in the number of these primates. Such acts of poaching affect the tourism sector and end up frustrating the safaris both in Uganda and Rwanda as well as Democratic Republic of Congo.
Individuals even after the war they still settled in the park. Thus the money paid for mountain gorilla trekking is meant for the safety and growth of the mountain gorillas. A trekking permit in Uganda is 700 USD, 1500 USD for Rwanda and DR Congo is for 400 USD.