What is killing mountain gorillas?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Mountain gorillas are facing numerous threats that put their very existence at risk. One of the primary factors responsible for their decline is poaching. These magnificent creatures are highly sought after for their body parts, which are used in traditional medicine or sold as trophies on the black market. Despite efforts to combat poaching, the illegal trade continues to persist, driven by demand and fueled by organized criminal networks.

Habitat degradation and loss is another major threat to mountain gorillas. The encroachment of human activities such as mining, logging, and agriculture has led to the destruction of their natural habitat. Forests are cleared to make way for infrastructure development, farming, and extraction of valuable resources. As a result, gorillas are left with fragmented and shrinking habitats, making it harder for them to find food and shelter.

The mining industry, in particular, has had a devastating impact on gorilla populations. The demand for minerals used in electronic devices has led to the establishment of mines in gorilla habitats. These mining operations not only destroy the forest but also pollute water sources, further compromising the gorillas’ survival. Additionally, the presence of miners and associated infrastructure increases the likelihood of poaching and the transmission of diseases.

Speaking of diseases, one of the most notorious threats to mountain gorillas is the Ebola virus. Gorillas are highly susceptible to the virus, and outbreaks have decimated entire populations. Ebola is often transmitted to gorillas through contact with infected humans or other animals. The consequences of an Ebola outbreak can be catastrophic, as gorillas have limited immunity to the virus and can die in large numbers.

Unfortunately, the challenges faced by mountain gorillas are further compounded by conflict and poor governance in their remaining strongholds. In regions where gorillas reside, armed conflicts and political instability make conservation efforts difficult. In such situations, law enforcement is weak, and illegal activities such as poaching and habitat destruction can go unchecked. The presence of armed groups also poses a direct threat to the safety of conservationists and researchers working to protect the gorillas.

The survival of mountain gorillas is under severe threat due to poaching, habitat degradation and loss, diseases like Ebola, and the impact of conflict and poor governance. These factors, often intertwined, continue to push the mountain gorillas closer to the brink of extinction. Urgent and coordinated efforts are needed to address these challenges and secure a future for these incredible creatures.