The Congo Basin is home to some rare fauna and is one of the best bio-diverse with a wide range of species. There are some exclusive species in the region. Among the long list of species, the most endangered are the lowland Gorilla, an inhabitant of Gabon and the Republic of Congo. This is the place where you can find most of the lowland Gorilla. Congo is devoid of anthropogenic influences, yet there is a serious decline in the number of gorillas. The reason attributed is the rise in infrastructural developmental activities happening in the rainforests, disturbing the ecosystem.
The Endangered Species International (ESI) promotes conservational projects to save the planet from flora and fauna extinction. ESI has its site in the Congo basin and the study reveals around 58 gorillas live in 123 sq km. It was estimated that the density of weaned gorillas was at 0.81 individuals/sq km in the forest and no individuals in the degraded forests. In protected areas with well-preserved habitats, the gorillas were lower than expected. There is a hot spot for the gorillas. The human activities are threatening the very existence of the animals in the Congo region. It is putting tremendous pressure on the animals.
In the study site of 123 sq km, the ESI protects the lowland gorillas as part of the conservation activities. Other endangered species in studied in the project includes mandrills, forest elephants. African dwarf crocodiles among others. There is some plant life that is also threatened. The major cause of concern was illegal wild meat hunting and deforestation happening for the past 2 decades. Now these concerns have been contained to a certain extent. ESI works in close coordination with the forest hunters and has started a cooperative named the Hunter for Gorilla Conservation program. Moreover, with the help of ESI, an ecotourism on a small scale is being conducted along with awareness seminars.
It was the World Environment Day, and the university students of Goma were enlightened on the climate change and its effects on the ecosystem by Tuver Wundi. The Great Lakes is the home to some exotic and threatened species, and it is the abode of mountain gorillas. It is also home to diverse ecosystems. The extreme use of natural resources at the border of the Virunga National Park can have adverse consequences on the ecosystem. The loss of the habitat is attributed to the illegitimate fuel market. It is the greatest threat gorillas are facing. The species depends on plants for both food and shelter, and the destruction of the forest is threatening their livelihood.
The habitat loss can also be attributed to being the reason for the problem. The major cause for the climate change is illegal deforestation globally. It is only in the recent past that people have started to notice the problems faced in Africa due to the changes in the climate. The weather patterns change, and the harvest is disrupted. If this act of negligence is not stopped, it could be detrimental to the ecosystem. It is important to act now before everything goes out of control informs Tuver.
The university students were listening intensely to the speech, and their reception was cordial says Tuver. The interest shown by the students is a good sign that the future is in safe hands. The awareness of the climate change and its dangers in the eastern Congo region is on the rise, and it is no more the interest of a few environmentalists and gorilla conservationists who look for immediate action but also the student community. The students have to get engaged in environmental activities and should take an active part in educating the communities on protecting the forest, saving the gorilla and save the planet from destruction, ended Tuver.
Effective conservation is teamwork, and it can be achieved with only working in coordination with government authorities and NGOs. This fact is true to the Congo basin that is driven by insecurity and poverty along with the red-tapism of the bureaucracy. The special awareness event at Goma was organized by the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) along with NGOs supported by the funds from Arcus Foundation. The workshop had a huge turnout and elaborated on the functioning of the governments and the civil society in protecting the great apes from extinction in the Congo region.
The lecture of Jean-Claude Kyungu Kasolene was information, and he runs the conservation project at Mount Tshiaberium. JC has completed the master’s degree in Gorilla behavior and can tell the genetic difference among the four types of gorillas, their behavior and habitat patterns and how it can affect the conservation process. There was sufficient information on how the local communities benefited from the protection of Gorillas and primates. It may be noted that the southern part of Nigeria and Cameroon benefitted immensely by the protection of the species. It has helped in developing the forest.
Once JC finished his speech, prominent official from the region pledged their support to protect both chimpanzees and gorillas. Anselme Kitakya, the Provincial Minister of the Environment from the North Kivu and the Vice President, inked the agreement for the protection of flora and fauna in the region that remains to be the last habitat for the gorillas and other primates. With this done, the team is all set to roll out the SafeZone Project where two million trees will be planted, and a safe habitat will be created for the Gorillas away from human interference. The saplings will take the time to grow into trees, but nevertheless, the beginning is made.
Tourists and animal lovers are always thrilled spotting endangered species and are often enthused to feel these creatures. But animal activists say that it is not wise to have close contact with the endangered species. Mountain gorillas are threatened by the disease transmission that happens during contact with the humans. This has been a cause of concern for activists who work for the preservation of these species. Though, it cannot be denied that research and work of the scientists along with tourism play a vital role in the survival of these endangered species.
There are some tips offered by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. The good news is tourism protects the species from going extinct. The DR Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda are the home to the mountain gorillas. The mode of livelihood is farming in Africa. The government has restricted agriculture in the gorilla’s volcano surroundings as an effort to protect the species. This extreme step has been taken because the funds coming from tourism is more than using the park for other purposes. Gorillas are susceptible to disease that affects humans and therefore it is advised not to trek when you are sick.
While on gorilla tourism ensures that you do not alter the behavioral pattern of the ape. It is advised to stay 7 meters away from the animal. Younger gorillas do not know the rules and try to touch the humans, so it is safe to stay 7 meters during the interaction with the animal. The best way to be part of the effort of saving the endangered species is to donate for the cause. The conservation project runs mostly on donations and grants. While donating, evaluate the organization and offer your contributions. Apart from gorilla trekking, there are other activities available in the park that also needs your attention, like visiting the Nyiragongo volcano, My Karismibi, seeing golden monkeys and more.
Gorilla trekking is popular among the safaris, and various national parks exhibit gorillas in their natural habitat. The most prominent among them include Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in the DRC, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Despite the best government and private efforts, there is a lot to be done for protecting the species. Some of the ways to support the case include, spreading the work about gorilla tourism. It helps create awareness and generate funds for the cause. Befriend a gorilla at the Friend a Gorilla campaign helping to protect the gorillas. The initiative was started by the Uganda Wildlife Authority at a cost of $1 to become a friend of a gorilla at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme have launched the Gorilla Friendly Pledge to create awareness on minimizing the risk of transmitting diseases from humans. Share your feedback about the trip. Your gorilla safari experience could be an eye opening experience to many others. It helps to promote Gorilla tourism. There are NGO, Inter-Government organizations and other bodies working towards protecting the species. Take part in the effort by donating to the cause of protecting mountain gorillas from extinction.
About five million years ago, the African apes like the gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor, and they all belong to family Hominidae. They walk on all fours, which is called quadrupedalism. They carry their head and torso’s weight with the help of their knuckles. There are two species of gorilla. They are the Western gorilla and Eastern gorilla. Western has two subspecies called Western Lowland and Crosses River Gorilla whereas the Eastern gorilla has the subspecies of eastern lowland and the mountain gorilla.
It has been proved that gorillas portray individual personalities. They are also found to be capable of expressing emotions like grief. The gorillas live in sociable groups which are often led by male gorilla called silver back. This name is because the male is old and has silver hairs on its back. The group has females and infants. When other male gorillas grow up, they move away from their group to form a new group or join other groups. Different groups are found to live and co-exist in the same area peacefully.
Social bonds are reinforced by a group by social grooming. They groom each other by combing them using their teeth and fingers. They are mostly herbivores, and their diets comprise mainly of leaves, stems, fruits, shoots and sometimes include caterpillars, snails, grubs, ants, and termites.
The females start reproducing at around ten years of age and reproduce every 3-4 years. When a female is in estrus cycle, she can be conceived only for 3 days in a month. They also have gestation period like that of humans, which extends up to 9 months. The young gorillas weigh around 4 pounds, and the growth rate is twice as fast as human offspring. They all nest in the ground and have the ability to our simple tools like stones and sticks. They are usually quiet animals but use various noises to communicate whenever necessary.
The mountain gorilla is a huge ape that inhabits the volcanic slopes of Africa. They have very few predators, and yet they have been listed as endangered species. This is mainly because of the human activities such as wars, poaching, habitat destruction, etc.
At present, this endangered species of mountain gorilla’s habitat is constrained within the boundaries of national parks of Africa. One is the scenic Bwindi National Park situated in Uganda, and the other is distributed among the three national parks in the region of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas are shy, but they are extremely strong. When they feel threatened, they turn ferocious and attack the intruder. The group leader will protect the group by charging at the threat, and the mother will protect the young ones even by fighting in the face of death.
The life span of the mountain gorillas is 30 years, and the group is led by an alpha male, which is often the oldest male in the group. The troops also have females, infants, and younger males. The alpha silverback also maintains order and has control over the activities of the group. They also schedule the resting time, travel and feeding trips. This species is listed as critically endangered by IUCN’s Red List. Poaching and wars are seen as the main reason for their endangered status.