Gorillas are among the critically endangered primates according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Sadly, the number of gorillas is declining day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year.
Currently, the number of Mountain gorillas is estimated to be about 1005 individuals surviving only in Virunga region covering Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The good news is that the number of mountain gorillas is steadily growing, thanks to the different conservation organizations, the government and the global community.
Dian Fossey, an American primatologist started the conservation in 1960’s when she spearheaded the campaign to control the serious threats that would lead to extinction of gorillas.
Below are some of the conservation measures put in place to curb down the extinction of gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo:
Gorillas in Virunga region and Bwindi Impenetrable National park are affected by poaching (illegal hunting of wild animals and birds), civil wars especially in DR. Congo, illegal animal trade, human infectious diseases like Cholera, T.B etc, habitat loss and fragmentation that significantly reduced gorilla numbers.
Poaching is controlled by the introduction of Gorilla tourism which en lighted the people around the parks to realize the importance of Gorillas as part of the profits from Gorilla tourism is given back to the local communities in terms of services like clean water, security, better education and better health services among others.
Gorilla doctors are employed to treat Gorillas and make postmortem in case of any death to establish the cause. The popular movie “Gorillas in the Mist” brought conservation of mountain gorillas to the international level and many conservation organizations responded positively and the conservation efforts helped to reverse the declining numbers of gorillas.
In an effort to conserve Gorillas, Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo came together in partnership with local people and international conservation organizations to put up strong conservation policies and measures that would help to protect and conserve gorillas.
Gorilla National Parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, Volcanos National Park and Virunga National Park were gazetted and transformed into eco tourism destinations and had the ranger based monitoring systems implemented to keep on monitoring gorillas.
Money got from Gorilla tourism is used to conserve Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The rangers and local communities are facilitated to protect the Gorillas and their habitat. Part of the profit is given to the local communities around the park in terms of services like clean water, better health facilities, and better education and so on. In return, people around the parks are now overseers, anti- poachers and report any case of harming Gorillas and their habitats.
Local communities are sensitized about the risks of transmitting human infectious diseases to Gorillas. The gorilla organization and mountain gorilla veterinary project help to vaccinate domestic dogs, cats, cattle and goats to reduce infectious diseases such as rabies. Avoid close range with Gorillas and maintaining good hygiene is also encouraged among the people to reduce human disease transmission to gorillas.
Heavy punishments have been put in place to threaten all case of poaching. The rangers keep on patrolling the parks to ensure safety of Gorillas and whoever caught illegally lingering in the park is arrested to serve as a lesson to others who would have done the same.