Poaching

Gorilla poaching | why gorillas are hunted?

Most of the threats lie within the majority of hunting and poaching, habitat destruction, climate change and infectious diseases that threaten the gorilla’s survival. During the early 20th century, the gorilla was shot for game (Berger 1985).  This is due through the use of fetishes.  These are cured animal parts collected and sold locally for their supposed magical powers. According to Berger 1985, many pounds of gorilla meat are used for consumption and are still prized by many local African cultures.  Logging and deforestation seem to be the biggest problems in the survival of the gorillas.

Snares set to trap other wildlife may accidentally maim and even kill gorillas, while poaching for infants has re-emerged as a threat to mountain gorilla. The biggest threats to Grauer’s gorillas result from armed conflict in and around the parks. In the past decade, many Grauer’s gorillas have been shot dead in cross fire or for food by people hiding in the forest. Ongoing instability in the region means that this problem is getting worse, as civil war has made arms more accessible and continues to create large numbers of refugees. A relatively new threat to the gorillas comes from the tourism. While tourism has so far aided its survival, large numbers of people coming into close contact with gorillas may put them at risk from human diseases.
Mountain gorillas are often the victims of poaching, deforestation and war. The film Virunga highlights the sensitivity of the gorillas and their habitat. A gorilla at the Senkweke Center, Kaboko lost his hand from poaching at a young age and the event left him severely depressed. When the sound of gunfire broke out around the rehabilitation center, the stress caused him to get sick and he lost his life. Though mountain gorillas may seem to have a tough exterior, deep down they are sweet, gentle creatures who have difficulty adjusting to changes in their environment.

In the past the gorilla probably benefited from human activity.  As villagers shifted their farms and allowed former pastures to return to secondary forest, which provides the plentiful ground cover (Dixson, 1981).  Today most of the hunting is in the form of deforestation and logging (Dixson 1981).  Logging means big money, especially in the form of mahogany and other hardwoods (Dixson 1981).  The logging companies move deep into the forest, hiring locals to game hunt the gorilla.  They then trap gorillas and the preserved flesh is then sent back to the big towns for consumption (MacDonald 1985).  The main reason for the increased logging and hunting is the population growth of equatorial Africa.  While the lowland gorilla is still relatively stable, the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Zaire are surrounded by high population density of humans.

Although the borders of the gorillas’ distribution area seem to have changed little over the last few decades, the habitat of this ape species has been fragmented and encroached considerably as forested areas are increasingly reduced and isolated from each other by cultivation. From some regions gorillas have already disappeared altogether because the forest has been destroyed. Therefore they often are confined in small and isolated forest islands.

Gorillas can survive, only if humans can extend a helping hand.  Most of the protection lies within governments taking action.  Although there are laws and decrees, enforcement is very difficult and almost ineffective (MacDonald 1985).  One major factor in the protection of the gorilla has been the national park system.  Tourism in areas of Rwanda has raised money for the protection of the endangered species (MacDonald 1985).  It is hoped that now, governments and local people can work together to provide a safe future for both gorillas and humankind.