Gorillas are the largest of the living primates and are known to inhabit the forests of Central Africa. They are divided into two species. Mountain gorillas, found in the Virunga volcanic mountains region shared by Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda are common within the Central Africa region. However, their populations are declining rapidly because of poaching, civil unrest, charcoal trade intruding into their habitats and diseases like Ebola hemorrhagic fever, whose symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding.
Though they are not usually hunted for bushmeat (except in cases where armed rebels in DRC have slaughtered and eaten them), the mountain gorillas are frequently maimed or killed by traps and snares intended for other animals. Nevertheless, there’s a lifeline for the huge apes. According to a census conducted and released by the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) in January 2009, the population of critically endangered mountain gorillas in DRC’s Virunga National Park increased 12.5 percent within 16 months. The report also indicated that 81 gorillas (as per 2009) now live permanently in the park, up from 72 in August 2007. The Wildlife Authority also estimated that around 211 mountain gorillas now live in Virunga National Park in the DRC. This is out of an estimated total of 720 mountain gorillas left in the world, with the rest living in Rwanda and Uganda. Civil unrest and war have threatened populations of Grauer’s gorillas in DRC. But with such statistics, rangers and other conservationists can claim they are winning the conservation war. However, they cant celebrate yet as forests where gorillas live are surrounded by increasing human settlements which has led to massive deforestation, threatening their habitats as a result. War within the Central Africa border has also put conservation efforts at risk particularly in the Congo.