Gorillas are the largest species of the primate family that are found in the forests of central and western Africa. There are two species of gorillas and they are related to chimpanzees and orangutans. Both of these species are listed as endangered and the western gorilla is listed as critically endangered. Let’s take a look at why the population of these magnificent animals has declined over the last few hundred years.
Why are gorillas endangered?
There are many reasons that gorillas are endangered and, unfortunately, most of these are caused by humans. One of the primary reasons for the decline in gorillas is due to hunting and poaching. Even though it is now illegal, gorillas are still killed for their meat which is known as “bush meat.” The regions that are home to the gorillas have also been subject to civil wars and political unrest. In these situations gorillas are hunted for food and are sometimes shot to stop them making noise.
There is also a small, but highly lucrative, live animal trade that further reduces the numbers of gorillas in the wild. Logging, deforestation and other forms of habitat destruction, also play a part in reducing the available habitat of the gorilla. With increased human exposure they have become susceptible to human diseases such as measles and intestinal parasites. In recent years the Ebola virus has wiped out thousands of gorillas.
Conservation efforts are currently underway to save this important animal. However, illegal poaching and illness remains a huge problem to overcome.