Roughly 700 mountain gorillas exist in the wild, with slightly more than 400 in Uganda; illegal poaching has taken a heavy toll
By KEVIN MWANZA, Contributing Writer
KAMPALA, Uganda (AFKI) — One of the world’s most endangered species, the mountain gorilla, received a boost in Uganda after the nation’s wildlife conservation agency discovered three new-born in as many months, adding to the growing population after years of decline in its population.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) made the discovery recently in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park as the nation steps up efforts to save the species from extinction.
“Over the last 10 years, Uganda has been leading in the conservation of the mountain gorilla. We believe that the pristine and safe habitat is the crucial link in the survival of the gorillas as well as their health and wellbeing,” said Andrew Seguya, UYA executive director.
Uganda is home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, with slightly over 400 animals, with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda home to the rest.
The conservation efforts have paid off, with the nation earning $34 million every year, the BBC reported.
Poaching, civil wars, illegal animal trade, human infectious diseases, and loss of their natural habitats due to encroachment are the leading threats to the remaining population of one of the world’s most critically endangered animal species.
In the three nations, civil conflicts have raged for years, fueling the illegal trade in the animal.
Northern Uganda has been under constant onslaughts by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), while the civil war in DRC has turned the DRC-Rwanda- Uganda borders into one of the most unsafe places in the world due to the presence of various militia groups.
In Virunga National Park in DRC, dozens of militia operate in the park, which is classified as a World Heritage Site by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Deadly clashes between rebels and the nation’s rangers have left at least 150 officers dead, as poachers aggressively pursue the gorillas, elephants, and other rare animals inside the park.
Conservation efforts in the three nations have seen the numbers rise, as well as a rise in revenue earnings from tourism.
In Rwanda, at least 30,000 tourists visit every year to get a glimpse of the endangered species.