Reasons Why Gorillas are Poached
Reasons why gorillas are poached have been in existence for centuries but it is in the 20th and recent century that gorillas have been poached extensively to the extent that mountain gorillas were critically endangered and on the verge of extinction. It was in 2018 that mountain gorillas escaped the critically endangered list to be only referred to as an endangered species.
Gorillas are apes that predominantly live on the ground, are herbivorous and inhabit the lushest forests in Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species that is the western gorillas (gorilla gorilla) and the eastern gorilla (gorilla berengei). The eastern gorillas are further divided in four subspecies which include the eastern lowland gorillas, western lowland gorillas and the very famous mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas inhabit the Albertine Rift montane rainforests in the Virunga Conservation Area and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda. The Virunga Conservation Area encompasses the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda. These are the only countries that host mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Lowland gorillas can however be seen in the Virunga National Park as well as Kahuzi Biega National Park in the Congo. It is in western African countries that the western lowland gorillas can be found.
Over the years however, gorillas have been poached greatly that saw them almost going extinct. There are so many reasons why gorillas are poached say; food, wild meat trade, private trophies collection and traditional medicines.
One of the reasons why gorillas are poached extensively is food. Many people poach these gorillas for food to feed themselves and their families as meat. This practice is most common in Western Africa as well as in the Congo. Also, rebel groups who seek the dense rainforests as hideout hunt down gorillas for food.
Gorillas are poached for purposes of wild meat trade. Given the fact that many people eat gorillas as well as other wild animals, demand for wild meat is high more so in urban centres where eating ape meat is considered prestigious. To meet the demand therefore, poachers do go ahead to hunt down the gorillas so as to trade for money or other commodities. This makes wild meat trade one of the reasons why gorillas are poached, to meet the high demand.
Traditional medicines got from gorillas as well as charms got from their parts is one of the reasons why gorillas are poached.
Also, gorillas are poached because some people do find them trophies that they can boost about. The demand for private trophies collection by people who think them as a sign of wealth and power if they had the gorillas hanging lifeless on their walls. Some people want them living though, and so they are hunted and captured as pets or for zoo keeping. It should however be noted that mountain gorillas cannot survive in captivity and for this reasons, the captured gorillas for zoo keeping or for pets end up dying because of the change in environments since they only survive in high altitude areas.
The above are the most common reasons why gorillas are poached. Although gorillas are a small percentage of the wildlife poached worldwide, the effects are felt strongly. This is because the gorillas are already few in number and have a very low birth rate as well as have a long gestation period.
Poaching is not the only threat that gorillas face, the others include among others habitat loss, diseases and insecurities. Protecting them, therefore, is very important and the respective bodies that are in place to protect and conserve the gorillas are doing all they can say by putting in place gorilla trekking age restrictions, restricting the number of persons trekking a single gorilla family to reduce the spread of diseases, training and dispatching rangers to protect the gorillas among so many others. Credit to the gorilla conservationist bodies as well for the great work done.