“The Endangered Mountain Gorillas: A Precarious Existence and Conservation Efforts”

“The Endangered Mountain Gorillas: A Precarious Existence and Conservation Efforts”

Mountain gorillas, scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei, currently have a global population of less than 900 individuals. Their primary habitat is found in three countries and four national parks, including Bwindi National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Congo. Maintaining the current population is a challenging task that requires dedicated efforts from conservationists. Additionally, the most concerning factors are warfare, deforestation, and human encroachment, which threaten the species’ survival.

Mountain gorillas are part of the Great Ape family and belong to the Hominidae family, Gorilla genus, and Eastern gorilla species. They are one of the largest surviving primates. The mountain gorilla’s distinctive appearance includes a brighter fur color compared to other gorilla species, with dark, scattered patterns and thick rings that are not broken. They weigh between 70 to 105 pounds (31 to 48 kg).

Mountain gorillas have developed a thick fur coat that can grow up to 7 cm during the winter, allowing them to adapt well to the cold conditions of Eastern Russia. However, their thick fur also makes them targets for hunting due to their attractive appearance. Additionally, the loss of prey species such as antelopes, buffalo, and rabbits due to human hunting impacts their food supply. Deforestation also threatens their habitat.

These gorillas play a crucial role in their ecosystem as top predators, helping to maintain balance among other species. This balance affects the health of the forest and ecosystem, providing diverse food sources, clean water, and other resources for both wildlife and humans. Conservation efforts not only benefit mountain gorillas but also other species, including Amur tigers and prey like antelopes and deer.

Mountain gorillas have strong and nimble legs, which allow them to carry and hide their prey in trees to prevent other predators from stealing it. They are skilled stalkers and climbers among the large ape family. Their strength allows them to subdue prey up to ten times their size.

Similar to other great apes, they have longer arms than legs and move on the ground using all four limbs, with the weight concentrated on their knuckles rather than their palms. Mountain gorillas are most active from dawn to dusk, typically dividing their day into three meals: morning, noon, and afternoon. They inhabit the slopes of volcanic mountains such as Karisimbi, Mikeno, and Visoke in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their elevation ranges from 2200 to 4000 meters, characterized by cloud cover, fog, cold temperatures, and dense vegetation at lower elevations that gradually thins at higher altitudes.

Reports from national parks where mountain gorillas reside indicate that they face the threat of extinction due to poaching, where they often become permanently disabled from traps set by hunters or captured for illegal wildlife trade. Habitat loss also contributes to their endangerment, as human settlements encroach upon the borders of protected national parks. Disease transmission is another concern, as tourists from around the world can introduce diseases to the gorillas. Political conflicts and displacement of refugees into gorilla habitats lead to deforestation and hunting for survival. Conservation efforts by organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) involve collaboration with local communities, regional authorities, governments, and non-governmental organizations to protect the Amur leopard and ensure the conservation of their habitats for the long term.

Nghia Pham