How can we help save mountain gorillas?
How can we help save gorillas? Visiting mountain gorillas families and learn about the life of the gorillas is one way of contributing to the ongoing efforts of saving these endangered apes. The revenue received from gorilla trekking tours benefits gorilla conservation.
Also during your gorilla trek, it is important to maintain strict rules and regulation- such as avoid visiting gorillas when you are ill.
You can also make a donation to the gorilla conservation organizations such as Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
You can support local communities around the park by buying their handcrafts or hiring porters during you gorilla trek so that they realize the benefits of gorillas and protect them.
- Go for gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo
The revenue from gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo benefits the conservation efforts of these great, glorious, fur-coated apes and some of our closest relatives. In facts without gorilla tourism gorillas can easily go extinct.
The parks where mountain gorillas live are surrounded by dene human populations and most of the people in these areas are farmers, so land is very important as far as their livelihoods in concerned.
But, the authorities in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have kept gorilla habits off-limits to agriculture so as to protect these endangered apes. This is due to the fact that, the revenue gained from gorilla tourism far exceeds the value of using the national park land for other purposes.
Gorilla permits cost US$700 in Uganda, US$ 400 in Democratic Republic of Congo and US$ 1500 in Rwanda per person, to spend one hour with the gorillas after encountering them.
By buying a permit, you will not only be buying a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter with these charismatic apes, you will be providing the economic incentive for the gorillas’ protection.
- Follow gorilla trekking rules
You are strongly advised to follow gorilla trekking rules and regulations set up by the park authorities for example;
Do not visit gorillas if you’re sick. Because gorillas shares 98% of our genetic material, they are susceptible a number of infectious diseases that affect humans. The most common infection is respiratory disease, which can range from mild colds to severe pneumonia.
At least stay 10 meters away from the gorillas. So as to reduce the risk of disease transmission and to avoid changing or disturbing the gorillas’ natural behavior, national park authorities have establish the rule of staying 10 meters or more from the gorillas at all times.
The gorillas themselves, especially youngsters, don’t know the rules and may approach humans, but tourists should make the effort to back away and avoid touching the animal if possible.
Other gorilla trekking rules include
- Burring human waste at least 30cm deep when trekking
- Limiting visits to 8 people per group
- Avoiding smoking, eating, and drinking on near gorillas; and
- Covering your face and turn away from gorillas if you must sneeze.
- Make a donation to conservation organizations working to protect mountain gorillas
One of the most effective ways to help save gorillas is by donating money to conservation organizations working on the ground to conserve the species, including;
- The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
- International Gorilla Conservation Programme
- African Wildlife Foundation
- Fauna & Flora International, and
- World Wide Fund for Nature
These organizations have spent decades finding effective method for protecting gorillas.
- Do other activities when visiting the gorilla parks in addition to gorilla trekking
The national parks when gorilla trekking is done such as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in Congo.
Also, the revenue obtained from these activities further incentivizes the governments and local people to protect the gorillas and their habitat. These activities include;
- Participating in Batwa Trail Experience in Mgahinga National Park to learn about the Batwa hunter gatherer tribe, the first people of the forests.
- Hiking mount Nyiragongo in Virunga National Park, one of the world’s most active volcanoes with the world’s largest lava lake on the top
- Hiking extinct volcanoes such as Karisimbi, Sabyinyo, Muhavura, Bisoke and Gahinga in Uganda and Rwanda
- Undertake golden monkey tracking (another highly endangered primate) in Uganda’s Mgahinga gorilla National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park
- Hike to Dian Fossey Grave in Volcanoes National Park to pay tribute to the great work of the legendary Dian Fossey of saving these primates. Dian Fossey told the world how mountain gorillas live, and fought tooth and nail to save them. Her obsession led to her mysterious death. The 1988 film ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ presented a fictionalized version of Fossey’s story.
- Support local community projects and businesses around the parks
Supporting local people around the park help in preserving of gorilla habitats and mountain gorilla conservation. The more benefits local people get from gorilla tourism, the more likely they are to want to protect gorillas.
Visitors can support them by buying locally made handcrafts, making contributions to community projects around park, for example;
You can visit the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village near Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, which employs former poachers as cultural interpreters and performers.
You can visit the Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation, bordering Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The NCCDF supports local artisans and the local Batwa community through its crafts shop. They train orphans who perform at a nearby lodge, and can make arrangements for visitors to sponsor them.
- Don’t purchase products made with wild animal parts
This is because as poachers set traps and snares to catch animals such as bush pigs, duikers and others in the gorilla parks, gorillas often get caught in poachers’ snares.
Also, the presence of poachers in the gorilla parks disturbs the gorilla habitats and increases the risk of disease transmission.
- Spread the word about mountain gorilla conservation
You can also contribute to conservation effort by telling your friends, families, and colleagues about the magnificent mountain gorillas and the efforts being undertaken to save them.
Remember that though mountain gorillas are endangered, their conservation story is a positive one. They are the only species of non-human great ape growing in number.
Fewer than 250 animals were counted in the mid-80s when Dian Fossey was researching the gorillas but today the population numbers is about 1063 individuals. This species has a fighting chance for survival if we continue to work to address conservation challenges.
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