Mountain Gorilla Conservation

Virunga National Park protects a significant proportion of the last remaining gorilla range, which represents over three hundred mountain gorillas.

Our Commitment to Conservation

The population has been steadily growing for the last 30 years and will become one of the successful critically endangered species programs in the world. This has been achieved against a backdrop of civil war, chronic underfunding and disease epidemics such as Ebola. The program’s success largely comes down to the commitment of Virunga’s rangers and the steady support of a worldwide community of supporters.

 

The cold-blooded murder of six members of the Rugendo family on July 22, 2007, was arguably one of Virunga’s darkest hours. This terrible event underscores the need to constantly protect Virunga’s gorillas and other wildlife.

The Park has undergone significant institutional and security reforms since this tragic event and Virunga’s mountain gorilla population is now on the rise.

Why are they endangered?

In recent decades, Eastern Congo, where Virunga National Park is situated has been ravaged by civil war. The social injustice symptomatic of the conflict has led to the mismanagement and illicit trading of many of the region’s resources, heavily impacting Mountain Gorillas living in the park. There are four main threats Virunga’s gorillas face as a result of poverty and unsustainable human activity.

    01
    Encroachment

    To tackle these issues, the Virunga Alliance is working with local people to develop sustainable energy and agricultural solutions, whilst striving to make Virunga National Park the foundation for the country’s rebuilding process.

    Encroachment: Charcoal Extraction

  • 01
    Encroachment

    Loss of a habitat is a key threat to all species living in Virunga National Park. Illicit charcoal production and slash and burn farming, practices employed for energy and income generation, are key causes of habitat loss. New settlements from people fleeing conflict within the region also encroach on Gorilla territory.

     

  • 02
    Poaching

    Sadly, mountain gorillas are all too often caught in snares laid with the intention of capturing smaller animals for bushmeat. Hundreds of snares are removed yearly by Virunga’s dedicated park rangers.

    BabyGorillaTheordore-Snare

  • 02
    Poaching

    Tragically, despite their splendor and sparsity, mountain gorillas are still being poached for their body parts, which are sold as black market souvenirs or trophies. Sometimes poaching occurs in desperate pursuit of income and as a result of absolute poverty.

  • 03
    Disease

    Gorillas that do get sick are monitored and treated by veterinary personnel to avoid diseases becoming fatal.  

    GorillaOrphans-BackFromBrink

  • 03
    Disease

    Gorillas, being very close relatives of ours, are incredibly vulnerable to infections carried by humans. That’s why, during the recent Ebola and ongoing coronavirus pandemics, Virunga closed its gates to tourism, thereby ensuring mountain gorillas are shielded as best as possible. 

Gorilla Conservation Critical to Virunga

The conservation of Virunga National Park hinges on the survival of one sub-species –  the mountain gorilla. With the public’s admiration of this magnificent creature comes the scope to protect all wildlife across the region, through trained park rangers, eco-tourism and stakeholder engagement.

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