In the year 1902, people came to know about the existence of mountain gorillas. Both the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla can be categorized as critically endangered species. Based on a research conducted in 2016, there are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the world.
The mountainous forests with the temperature below freezing point are the natural habitat of mountain gorillas. They survive the extremely cold weather due to the presence of thick fur. After humans have started intruding into their territory, these creatures are forced to find abodes at much higher altitudes where the conditions are more severe.
Mountain gorillas are herbivores and they feed on at least 100 plant species. A fully grown mountain gorilla weights 440 lbs and has an average standing height of 5 feet. They are social creatures who stay in groups and the dominant male defends them from outside threats.
Threats faced by mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are facing several threats, the majority of which is because of humans, directly or indirectly. As a recent example, we can highlight the incident of oil exploration that took place in Virunga National Park. Several other threats have been mentioned by conservationists that are making the survival of these mountain gorillas difficult.
- Loss of habitat
Loss of habitat is the biggest threat to a mountain gorilla. Human beings have cleared several mountainous forest areas and are using the land for agriculture as well as livestock rearing. In 2004, 3700 acres of forests in the Virunga National Park was cleared illegally.
They are not directly targeted for food by poachers. But, because of unselective hunting, they are at risk. Snares that are used for catching animals like antelope sometimes cause severe harm to mountain gorillas.
Human encroachment has been proved to give several deadly diseases to mountain gorillas. They are vulnerable creatures and even common cold can be fatal for them.
In the 1990s, during the battles in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the refugees used to take shelter in the areas around Virunga National Park. This destroyed the habitat of mountain gorillas. Rebels took over large portions of the park, forcing the gorillas to move more upward.
Ways of protecting the mountain gorillas
Various measures can be taken for conservation of mountain gorilla and we can also help.
- Protecting the mountainous forests is mandatory for saving these endangered creatures. Charities like WWF raise environmental awareness, undertake reforestation projects and promote sustainable livelihoods.
- For reducing the risk of transmission of disease from a human to a gorilla, minimum 7 meters of distance should be maintained while observing them.
- Donating money to those organizations that are striving to save this endangered creature will be a great help.
- Spread awareness among people about the conservation of mountain gorillas.
Even if there are just 880 mountain gorillas at present, conservation efforts are fruitful. In 1989, the number of mountain gorillas was 620 and now it is 880. Efforts on our part for preserving mountain gorilla must not be stopped.