Wild mountain gorillas are only found in 3 countries in Africa: Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they don’t occur in the wild anywhere else in the world, making them an incredibly rare species. The magnificent apes have been critically endangered due to poaching, deforestation, habitat encroachment and casualties of warfare. However, recently there has been some uplifting news from the DRC, after concentrated conservation efforts, their numbers are on the increase. The Virunga Foundation of Virunga National Park in the DRC has made groundbreaking strides in gorilla conservation and it is likely due to this that the numbers are showing an improvement.
The gorilla numbers in Virunga National Park have doubled in the past 40 years, standing at around 500-600 now. The total wild gorilla population is about 1000. In 2003 there were 380 mountain gorillas, and in 2010 there were 480 in Virunga National Park. The Virunga Foundation is a UK registered charity that works closely with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the government’s National Parks Authority, to implement its conservation measures.
One of the first things it did was tackle the causes of poaching by creating jobs and building schools and businesses. They also significantly increased trustworthy park rangers’ salaries to 8 times the average salary in the DRC, ensuring that the rangers are motivated and committed. These measures all contributed greatly to the decrease of poaching.
Dr. Augustin Basabose, states on the Virunga National Park website that “the mountain gorilla is the only great ape whose population is increasing despite continuous pressure on its habitat. This positive trend is due to the strong collaboration among the three countries where mountain gorillas live and the collective efforts on the ground by park staff, surrounding communities and local government, and non-governmental organizations”
The mountain gorilla populations in Uganda and Rwanda are showing positive growth as well, and it is thanks to the conservation funds raised by gorilla tourism. It’s always wonderful to hear such positive conservation news in Africa, we would like to encourage our guests to visit these majestic creatures in the wild and experience for themselves this primal connection to one of man’s distant relatives. Isn’t it wonderful to know that your wondrous gorilla encounter directly impacts their survival in the wild? Our Rwanda Gorilla Safari and Uganda Gorilla Adventures are a fantastic way to contribute to gorilla conservation while having the experience of a lifetime.