Gorilla Conservation: What is Being Done in Africa?

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Mountain Gorilla in Rwanda

Countries where mountain gorillas live that is to say Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo have  come together in partnership with local people and international conservation organizations to put up strong conservation policies and measures that can help to protect and conserve gorillas.

This saw a legally binding agreement called the gorilla agreement where 10 countries have agreed and created solutions to reduce threats and conserve gorillas through strategies including;

Protection of gorilla habitats through effective trans-boundary management,

Supporting local communities living near gorilla national parks through development projects and alternative resources and Putting to an end poaching and illegal trade of gorillas or their products.

Protection of gorilla habitats has became effective when protected areas were gazetted as national parks and transformed into ecotourism destinations and had the ranger based monitoring systems implemented to keep on monitoring gorillas by the park rangers and guides. In the process of conserving mountain gorillas, the other subspecies of eastern and western gorillas in DRC have also received conservation attention including other wildlife that share habitats with mountain gorillas which has made diversity of wildlife relevant besides gorillas.

Due to the genetic similarity between humans and mountain gorillas, gorillas are susceptible to many of the same infectious diseases that affect people. Mountain gorillas are also immune to some diseases, meaning they are particularly susceptible to certain human diseases because of their historic isolation from people. Research conducted by the Gorilla Doctors and other scientists has proven that mountain gorillas have died as a result of infections that originated in people. Infectious disease, after trauma, is the leading cause of death in mountain gorillas. The most common infection is respiratory disease, which can range from mild colds to severe pneumonia. To protect gorillas from such infections, the national park authorities ask that anyone feeling sick or running a fever to not trek gorillas.

In order to reduce the risk of disease transmission and to avoid disturbing the gorillas’ natural behavior, the Gorilla Doctors have worked with national park authorities to establish the rule of staying 7 meters (21 feet) or more from the gorillas at all times. The gorillas themselves, especially young ones don’t know the rules and may approach humans, but tourists should make sure they stay away and avoid touching the animal if possible. The 7-meter rule should be observed at all times, even when gorillas leave the national park and venture on to property owned by tourist lodges and camps in order to reduce diseases.

One of the most effective ways to help mountain gorillas is to donate money to organizations working on the ground to conserve the species. Numerous organizations including MGVP have spent decades finding effective methods for protecting mountain gorillas, and most rely on grants and donations to fund their work. When donating your money to support any cause, it’s important to evaluate the organization you’re considering supporting to determine how successful the group is in carrying out its mission. You should get to know what methods do such organizations use to accomplish their stated goals. This is when you can’t afford to make significant personal donation or travel to Africa.

In conclusion, gorilla conservation requires both local and international support; awareness building, strong law enforcement and conservation policies that not only protect gorillas but also motivate people including tourists to understand hoe gorillas should be protected and conserved. Educative programs about the health of gorillas as well as health of people and environmental awareness are such endless important issues that keep highlighting the need for continued conservation efforts to save mountain gorillas.

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