Why Were Mountain Gorillas Going Extinct?
Why were Mountain Gorillas Going Extinct? Mountain gorillas were almost getting extinct. These apes are the world’s largest primates. they wander around the mountainous slopes of Virunga national park, volcanoes national park, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and Mgahinga national park. They have thick and long fur that helps them to survive on high altitudes. So why were mountain gorillas getting close to extinction? There are so many reasons as to why they were getting extinct and some of them will be explained below.
Habitat loss was among the reason as to why mountain gorillas were becoming extinct. The cutting down of trees and burning of bushes by human beings for settlement, agriculture, and industrialization caused mountain gorillas to lose their natural habitats with no options to move to high elevations which are sometimes dangerous to their health because of cold temperatures that can cause them diseases like pneumonia.
Poaching was also one of the reasons why mountain gorillas were getting extinct. Much as the local people poached mountain gorillas and sold the meat to the rich people who enjoyed mountain gorilla meat, some local people also poached these primates to eat the meat by themselves and feed their families as well.
Disease outbreaks most especially Ebola claimed a lot of gorillas and this is another reason why mountain gorillas were going extinct. The birth rate of mountain gorillas is too low with mountain gorillas having only 1-2 fertile days in a month and produce once in 4-6 years. Mountain gorillas have a weak immune system so in case one dies the number reduces. A disease outbreak in most cases leads to the death of many gorillas which affects the total number of mountain gorillas in the wild.
Illegal pet trade
Some locals were being given a lot of money by foreigners to hunt down mountain gorillas. some of the foreigners had private animal zoos and others wanted to own the mountain gorillas in their homes forgetting that they cannot survive in captivity.
The only predator of mountain gorillas are the leopards. The leopards enjoy mountain gorilla meat so much. Mountain gorillas sometimes fall in traps that have been set for other animals such as waterbucks, bushbucks, antelopes among others. The snares injured many of them and have led to the death of some.
Traditional healers used to have a belief that some parts of the body of mountain gorillas work like charm for magic. They used to kill mountain gorillas for their own traditional beliefs and this reduced their numbers in the wild making them to get to a point of being extinct.
Silverbacks killing other males
The other uncommon reason for mountain gorillas getting to the point of extinction is the fact that some silverbacks fight each other to death fighting for the position of the leader of the family. Silverbacks can also kill young males in the group if they see them as a threat in the near future. Silverbacks also fight and get deep wounds that can lead to their death after a few days yet it’s always hard for their population to recover due to their low birth rates.
Mountain gorillas are herbivores animals and mainly feed on vegetation such as stem, roots, tree barks, leaves, bamboo shoots and sometimes supplement their diet with ants, termites, and insects. They live in social groups of 5-30 members dominated by a silverback which is most of the time an old male gorilla.
Where to find mountain gorillas in Africa
Mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries in the world that is Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo, and of these Uganda boasts with more than a half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. Conservation efforts from different organizations have led to an increase in the mountain gorilla population despite human encroachment, poaching, and wars.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda
In Uganda mountain gorillas can be found in two national parks Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with more than a half of the total population and Mgahinga national park both located in southwestern Uganda. Gorilla families habituated in Uganda include Nshongi family, Mishaya family, Bikingi family, Nshongi family, Nkuringo family, Oruzogo family, Mubare family, Kuhungye family, Katwe family, Habinyanja family, Bitukura family, Nyakagezi family, Busingye family, Bweza family, Christmas family, Bushaho family, Rushegura family and Kyagurigo family.
Price of gorilla trekking in Uganda
Uganda gorilla trekking permits can be obtained from the Uganda wildlife authority or any trusted tour operator at a fee of $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and shs250,000 East African citizens.
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda
Mountain gorillas in Rwanda can be found in volcanoes national park which has only 10 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourism. The habituated gorilla families in Rwanda are Susa group, Amahoro group, Karisimbi group, Sabyinyo group, Umubano group, Agashya group, Hirwa group, Kwitinda group, Bwenge group, and Ugenda group.
Price of gorilla trekking in Rwanda
The price of gorilla trekking in Rwanda is $1500 for all trekking visitors and the permits can be got from any trusted tour operator or Rwanda development board.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In DR Congo, mountain gorillas can be found in Virunga national park located in the eastern part of the country. Mountain gorillas habituated in Virunga national park are 8 and these include Bageni gorilla family, Humba gorilla family, Munyaga gorilla family, Rugendo gorilla family, Lulengo gorilla family, Kabirizi gorilla family, Nyakamwe gorilla family, and Mapuwa gorilla family
Gorilla trekking in Virunga national park DR Congo costs $450 in the dry season and $200 in the wet season.
The best time to trek mountain gorillas
Gorilla trekking can be done at any time of the year but the dry seasons of June to September and December to February are more comfortable for trekking. During these months the roads leading to the gorilla parks are accessible, the rainfall is little which makes the trekking trails to be less slippery and less muddy.
Packing list for gorilla trekking
To trek mountain gorillas, travelers will need to pack some things that shall be used in the jungles. Some of the equipment tourists shouldn’t miss out on gorilla trekking include hiking boots, long-sleeved clothes, gardening gloves, insect repellents, a hat, a pair of gaiters, face mask, sanitizer, binoculars, camera, drinking water, energy-giving snacks, garden gloves, and a walking stick among others