Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Endangered animals - Mountain gorillas

Mountain gorilla is beautiful animal that lives in the tropical mountain forests in central Africa, in area shared between three countries: Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. These gorillas live on high altitudes, above 2000 m and unfortunately there are only around 70 mountain gorillas left in these tropical mountain forests.

Though there has been some significant progress in conservation of these animals, mountain gorillas are still threatened by poaching, habitat loss, diseases and civil wars.

Mountain gorillas have often been killed for their heads, hands, and feet, which are then sold to collectors and there's also the problem of abduction of young gorillas as they are being sold to zoos or to people that want them as pets. Abduction of young mountain gorilla usually means the death of at least one adult mountain gorilla as members of group will fight to the death to protect their young. Poaching for their meat also causes the problem, especially in regions affected with civil war when there's not much food for local people.

Their habitat loss is lately also very big problem as humans need more and more land, which often results in deforestation, moving gorillas to isolated areas. These isolated areas mean less food for gorillas and without the necessary food sometimes they even raid crops for food which often causes retaliation from the local population.

Since gorillas have similar genetic structure as humans, they are vulnerable to many diseases as humans are, but unlike humans they still hadn't developed immunities to resist human diseases since there used to be no humans and no diseases. However mountain gorillas are now the biggest touristic attraction in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and because of this gorillas are exposed to great risk of capturing some human disease that could severely reduce already endangered gorilla population.

Civil wars, very often in these areas, also present big problem since they make conservation efforts too risky, and almost impossible.

On 20th February 2008 in Kampala, these three countries launched their 10-year Transboundary Strategic Plan for the Central Albertine Rift Protected Area Network that should improve community livelihoods and contribute to the stability of the region. This project's basic idea is to not only contribute to species conservation, but also to sustainable development and poverty alleviation because these problems are too connected to be solved separately.

And saving the endangered mountain gorillas of Africa will be a key component of the 4-year project. Let us hope for the best.

Mountain gorillas - Family

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