You could share ideas on the relevant strategies to conserve gorillas in Africa! Gorillas are rare species of primates hardly found anywhere else in the world. Gorilla trekking experience in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked as a five star experience, a focus for most travelers on African Safaris. Across Africa, gorillas are found in 11 countries but Uganda, Rwanda and Congo are the top destination where gorilla safaris take place. Mountain gorillas are the most visited gorilla specie in Africa. Apparently, there are only 1006 gorillas in Africa half of which live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park while the rest reside in Virunga Conservation Area shared by Mgahinga, Virunga and Volcanoes National Park. Other gorilla species in Africa include Cross River gorillas, Eastern Lowland and Western Lowland gorillas. All gorilla species are endangered primates on the red list of the International Union For Conservation of Nature.
Threats to the survival of mountain gorillas in Africa
The survival and increase of mountain gorilla numbers in Africa has been threatened by several factors overtime. These include:
Mountain gorillas have continuously been poached by local people for meat, hides and other products. The recent incident was in Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Park in southwestern Uganda. In other cases, gorillas fall victims of traps and snares set to catch other wild animals in the forest. Locals set up traps to other forest animals but gorillas find themselves victims, which lead to injury and death of some.
Habitat loss is yet another pressing factor hindering the conservation of mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and the rest of Africa. Local people have continuously encroached on Gorilla Park’s land to expand land for settlement and farming. Also, forests in which gorillas live are cut for poles, firewood and charcoal by locals who live in adjacent communities.
The conservation and survival of mountain gorillas is also affected by diseases, which lead to death of some gorillas especially the young ones. Respiratory diseases are common in gorillas across Africa. The endangered species are man’s close relatives sharing over 98% of human genes. This makes them susceptible to human illnesses. Reports tell that physical injuries and trauma are the major causes of death in mountain gorillas across Africa. Great thanks to the gorilla doctors who have worked continuously to improve the lives of these endangered species.
Strategies to improve gorilla tourism
Responsive conservation bodies such as Uganda Wildlife Authority and Rwanda Tourism Board have put various strategies to improve the wellbeing of mountain gorillas in Africa. These include:
Involving local people
The involvement of local people in tourism activities around gorilla parks has reduced the human wildlife conflicts between local people and park management in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Locals are involved in certain park activities such as pottering and guiding. The batwa cultural trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other community tours to batwa communities in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some part of the money collected from batwa activities is given back to them to improve their standards of living.
Expansion of gorilla national parks
The expansion of gorilla national parks is another strategy to improve the conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Apparently, Rwanda Development Board is expanding Volcanoes National park to accommodate the increasing number of mountain gorillas.
Benefits of gorilla tourism
There are lots of benefits that governments and local people in countries sheltering mountain gorillas have gained. These include:
Employment opportunities both formal and formal. Many people are employed as tour operators, hotel/lodge owners, waiter, waitresses, drivers, guides, consultants and porters among others.
Tourism is one of the sources of government revenue for countries where endangered mountain gorillas live. Government manages gorilla trekking activities in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. 80% of the total money collected from the sale of gorilla permits belongs to the government.
Tourism has led to the development of various infrastructures such as road, hotels, lodges, schools and the like. These have eased local people’s standards of living in terms of health and transport among others.
Conclusively, gorilla conservation is key if we are to ensure sustainable gorilla tourism in Africa. Respective governments, local people and government bodies are urged to work together for the survival of gorillas in Africa. For gorilla trekking and travel guide, Africa Adventure Safaris is your reliable agent