The number of Mountain Gorilla surpasses 1000 despite challenges

The number of Mountain Gorilla surpasses 1000 despite challenges

Mountain Gorilla eating. Credit: National Geographic

The conservation of Mountain Gorilla seems to be on track thanks to the efforts of the International Gorilla Conservation Program and the local authorities.

A recent survey has revealed that the population of, critically endangered, mountain gorillas is on the rise despite all the challenges including habitat loss, hunting, national instability, diseases, etc. Their number has surpassed 1000 now from 880 in 2010. This is a huge success of the International Gorilla Conservation Program and the local authorities. They have managed to achieve great success in terms of providing a suitable and conducive environment for the development of mountain gorillas.

The observation was carried out by Protected Area Authorities of DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda under the transboundary framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration. It also had the monetary support of different donors and Non-Governmental Organizations. A lot of volunteers facilitated the study as well.

The survey team followed predetermined paths as well as the trails of gorillas and found three night-nest sites. For greater accuracy, they collected the fecal samples from those sites to identify individual genotypes. During the study greater focus was on the gorillas but other mammals were also observed. Utmost care was taken so as not to disturb the wild animals. It was found that the number of Mountain Gorillas in the transboundary Virunga Massif has hiked to 604 from 480 in 2010 which included 41 social groups and 14 solitary male gorillas.

When this number is combined with the only other mountain gorilla conservation site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where 400 gorillas exist, the sum goes over 1000. Furthermore, it was noted that the number of all other mammals, including elephants, have not gone down since 2010 and things seem to be on the right track for conservation.

This news bear greater significance because of the challenges that mountain gorillas are facing. First and foremost is the most common and alarming issue of the habitat loss. Forests are being cut down and Human settlement and interferences are increasing. Refugees fleeing from Rwanda are a constant cause of clearing forests for settlements and farms. Moreover, climate change also plays a part in the extinction of suitable conditions for wildlife to prosper.

Another massive cause is Hunting. Mountain Gorilla has been a target for poachers ever since its discovery in 1902. It is mostly hunted for the purpose of providing food because of its huge size. Rwandan refugees have had a huge role in this regard as they lack adequate and consistent food supply. Apart from that, female gorillas are brought down to capture their offspring which are then sold as domestic pets. Civil Wars and National Instability are endangering the wildlife. Ongoing conflicts cause the refugee problem which in turn results in huge losses to gorilla habitat. Additionally, there are a lot of hideouts and military camps in the forest which also disturb the wildlife.

Gorillas are among those rare species which can catch diseases from humans. The growing interaction with humans is resulting in them catching more diseases from humans and since they have no natural defense mechanism for those diseases, they prove fatal for them most of the times.

Despite all these challenges, the growth in a number of gorillas is a refreshing sign and we must thank the International Gorilla Conservation Program for that. This achievement becomes much more significant as the World Wild-Life Fund has labeled the species as ‘Critically Endangered’, which means that these gorillas were on the verge of extinction and these efforts have saved a valuable species from being wiped away from the planet. The authorities regulated the tourism so that tourists should not mingle freely with the gorillas. In this way, their privacy was also ensured. Strict actions were taken against illegal hunters like a heavy penalty which has been increased by many times.

Natives are being educated and awareness campaigns are underway signifying the importance of wildlife. Last but not the least, veterinary interventions, on a regular basis, ensure that diseases do not cause a great amount of harm. Unity has an instrumental role in all this success as Rwandan Authorities, Ugandan Authorities, and different NGOs are working as one unit for this noble cause. The increasing number of gorillas despite all the challenges reinforces the fact that if the proper analysis is done, a clear plan is formulated, and it is executed wholeheartedly, desired results can be achieved.

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