Mountain gorillas remain highly endangered species, regardless of a slight increase in their population to about 1000 in the previous mountain gorilla census – approximately 600 live in the Virunga ranges, a conservation area shared by three national parks, namely Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Virunga national park in DR Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The rest of the mountain gorillas, about 400 dwell in the Bwindi Impenetrable national park in south western Uganda.
Gorilla poaching or illegal hunting remains on top of the list of major threats to gorilla conservation as well as other critically endangered species. Due to these threats, gorilla population has been swelling but only on a slow pace; thanks to the concerted efforts from respective governments and other conservation bodies.
Though, despite all these efforts, wrong elements of poaching and continued illegal killing of gorillas have sabotaged their immense increase.
There are numerous reasons why people keep poaching mountain gorillas as well as other animals, as some explained below;
Poaching for Bush meat
Mountain gorillas remain a major target for bush meat lovers and in cities and regions which consider bush meat as a luxurious and exclusive meal. Hunting for bush meat is still a common practice especially in the eastern Congo in Virunga national park, an area which remains a territory for various militia groups and seasoned poachers.
Poaching for trophies and personal collections
Mountain gorillas are also hunted down and captured as trophies for prestige. Baby gorillas are sold as exotic pets in private sanctuaries for wealthy individuals or sold to public zoos.
Mountain are poached and sold through illegal trade, common in Asia where some of the gorillas’ body parts are used in traditional medicine. Some are sold to traditional healers, and used for magic, charm and their various body parts are used differently. Other than poaching, there are several threats that hinder increase in the population of mountain gorillas, namely; – diseases, human-gorilla conflicts, civil wars / political unrest, habitat loss, and more.