The Deforestation Threat to Gorillas and How to Help


Animals in the wild are continuously threatened by deforestation, which limits their natural habitat. Gorillas are one of the four great ape species that are closest to humans in DNA structure. The other three are orangutans, bonobos and chimpanzees. Gorillas are herbivores and live on fruits, vines, roots, shoots and leaves. They are found in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Angola, Gabon, Equatorial New Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon. These shy animals dwell on land and construct their nests or beds of plant materials and leaves at dusk.

Threats to gorillas

There are several threats that endanger gorillas. There are the ongoing human conflicts in the areas where gorillas are found. Poaching is also a huge problem. Illegal traders capture young gorillas and sell them off. Unselective hunting for various wildlife, including bush pigs and antelopes inadvertently caught gorillas in their snares. Recently gorilla poaching for bush meat has been discovered.

Gorillas are also threatened by many diseases due to their exposure to humans because they have not developed any immunity to various viruses and illnesses. Although tourism is of great help in providing funds for gorilla conservation in Africa, they also have devastating effect on the primates as well as their environment. Debris left by tourists, militia, refugees and poachers contaminate the gorilla parks.

Habitat loss and deforestation

The greatest threat to gorillas is habitat loss. Rainforests are increasingly being cleared and degraded. This is mainly due to population growth and poverty. Just like during the Roman Empire, forested lands were quickly converted for agriculture, depleting the limited natural resources like wood for fuel and heat, which contributed to deforestation. Deforestation happens everywhere, including the areas in Africa that gorillas inhabit. Sadly, chainsaw manufacturers don’t really care about this because deforestation efforts fuel their business. What about the company who makes the best chainsaw? Well, they choose to keep mum about the matter to avoid further controversies and backlash from environmentalists.

The truth is, gorillas are finding it more difficult to sustain their lives as their natural habitat becomes smaller. It is not only the gorillas that are affected by the changes in the environment. Humans are affected as well. Over the years, various habitats such as lakes, plains and swamps, aside from forests around the world continue to disappear. They are harvested to support human consumption. Forests and other habitats are cleared for pipelines, roads, housing and agriculture to be developed for industrial progress.

Half of the original forests in the world have already disappeared and the practice continues. The level of regrowth is 10x slower than the rate of deforestation. Other factors include forest fires, ranching, unsustainable logging, oil exploration, mining and natural degradation because of climate change.

How to help the gorillas and the forests

  • Gorilla tourism significantly contribute to their conservation, as it provides the funds to create jobs and other benefits to local communities living close to the gorillas. Income from gorilla tourism also contribute to conservation projects to help the great apes. You can do your part by visiting the gorillas in Africa that are living in protected natural gorilla parks.
  • You can visit the WWF site and purchase a “Gorilla’s Paradise” gift to support the protected areas in Gabon. You can also make cash donations to WWF to support the organisation’s conservation efforts for gorillas.
  • Use social networking sites to share information about gorillas and encourage others to support legitimate organisations working to help conserve gorillas and their habitat.
  • Help organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, Community Forestry International and Greenpeace to conserve rainforests. On your own you can help save the forests from being degraded by purchasing recycled items like shopping bags, toilet paper, books and notebooks.
  • Farmers should rotate crops to maintain soil fertility and prevent deforestation from spreading. They can also plant high-yield hybrid crops and try hydroponics.
  • Limit your consumption of palm oil, one of the ingredients in the production of some shampoos, chocolates and breads. Thousands of trees in Indonesia and Malaysia were cut to give way to palm oil plantations, which effectively reduced the native habitats of orangutans.
  • Volunteer in reforestation projects and try to plant at least five trees each year.

While we cannot prevent progress, we can support projects aimed for sustainable and alternative programs that can enhance human and industrial development. Support development projects that will not do too much damage on forests that can affect the lives of many wildlife such as gorillas, and conversely, human population.

How Strong are Gorillas Compared to Humans

how-strong-are-gorillas-compared-to-humansChimpanzees are smaller than gorillas and they are noted for their strength. This suggests that gorillas are stronger than chimpanzees and humans as well. Although not officially confirmed, it’s been said that a gorilla is 20 times stronger than 20 human beings. That is a lot of brute strength that not even hours of pumping your muscles on the best workout bench daily can give you.

No available study

Scientifically speaking, there is no available research on how strong a gorilla can be compared to human beings. There are people who say that a male silverback is about 10 times stronger than a an adult human. Others say that it is stronger by about 27 times. There is no conclusive proof however. Still there are videos showing the massive strength of the world’s largest primate. They have been filmed uprooting banana plants that a human being will not be able to do. There are also videos showing an adult female gorilla building a nest by breaking full grown bamboo stems with just one hand.

Using a chimpanzee as basis

There has been studies done in the past to identify the strength of chimpanzees, pound for pound. An experiment was done in 1924 at the Bronx Zoo by John Bauman, a biologist. The pulling strength of a male chimp was studied versus a man of the same weight – 165 pounds. A pulling machine called a dynamometer was used. The man pulled at over 150 lbs, reaching a maximum of 200 lbs after two tries. The chimp on the other hand was able to pull 847 pounds, or about 5x more than the adult male of the same weight.

The chimp was not trained to do it and in actual fact, the dynamometer was placed behind his bars at the zoo. Further studies showed that it was not the maximum pulling strength of the chimpanzee. In the same experiment, a female chimp was able to pull 1,260 pounds with one arm. It would seem that chimps raised in the wild can be stronger than the two chimps that were born and raised in captivity.

Just like their cousins

Gorillas, just like their cousins, the chimps and orangutans, are trained to brachiate (swing from one hold to another). This action allowed them to move swiftly from tree branch to tree branch quickly. Although they can walk and run, they brachiate more especially when they have to escape and hide.

Based on studies in the past that were conducted on chimps and orangutans, it is safe to say that gorillas are also stronger than humans. They fight for supremacy to be the leader of a troop. Considering their weight, they can easily swing from branch to branch. They are able to climb and jump in the air. You have to consider their height as well, which range from 4 feet to 6 feet or 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres.

Gorillas do have massive strength, particularly in their upper bodies. They can do so much damage if they are angry. However, even in the wild, gorillas are very gentle, thus their incredible strength is not displayed that much.