With 98% of their DNA identical to that of humans, gorillas are so closely related to us that we could be considered family. Gorillas are very intelligent and share with us a full range of emotions: love, hate, fear, grief, joy, greed, generosity, pride, shame, empathy, and jealousy. Historically, gorillas have been portrayed as vicious killers when they are actually shy, gentle creatures that do not attack humans unless provoked. These simple facts make their endangerment at the hands of humans even more inhumane.
All gorilla species are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In recent decades, gorilla populations have been affected by habitat loss, disease and poaching. Due to the vast dense areas in which they live, it is difficult to monitor and protect gorilla populations and, in turn, even more difficult to implement successful conservation techniques
Poaching continues to be a huge problem and one of the biggest reasons why gorillas are diminishing. Gorillas are hunted in Africa to prevent them from eating crops. They are also killed for their meat, often referred to as bush meat, which is sold for a profit. In many parts of the world, gorilla body parts are even sold as souvenirs.
The destruction of gorillas’ natural habitat is also seeing their numbers shrink at an alarming rate. Gorillas move to find food and the areas that they have to traverse are becoming smaller and smaller. As a result, many simply do not have enough food and are left with nowhere to go. Global warming meanwhile continues to destroy vegetation, so many of the plants that Gorillas live on are not growing like they once were.
While the gorilla’s natural habitat is vanishing, the population of people in Africa continues to grow at a very fast rate. This means more land is being gutted to pave the way for homes and crops. In times of desperation and food shortages, African people will also kill and eat gorillas.
From time to time, large numbers of gorillas have been wiped out due to disease. Disease spreads rapidly and even the healthiest troops are not able to survive. The people of Africa also destroy gorillas in time of disease because they believe it will allow humans there the chance to live a better life.
It is believed that there are less than 100,000 gorillas left in the wild today. When you break this down in to the sub species, the count is even smaller. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the world today.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
Founded in 1978, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. The charity is committed to continually protecting and researching gorillas as well as their threatened ecosystems. In collaboration with government agencies and other international partners, they also provide assistance to local communities through education, health, training and development initiatives as well as providing education about the importance of gorillas to the world in which we live.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International has teamed up with world travel clothing specialists Craghoppers and award-winning visual storyteller (and Craghoppers Ambassador) Peter McBride to raise awareness of work the world should see.
How can I help?
You can help support the Fossy Fund by purchasing a custom design Craghoppers T-shirt. Craghoppers donate £5 from the sale of each T-shirt directly to the Fossy Fund. Wear your T-shirt to spread the word and continue to support the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the amazing work they do.
Greg Riordan is a wildlife blogger and animal lover. He enjoys photographing wild animals and plants and writing about his adventures.