An Endangered Species
Efforts to reverse the decline in the number of gorillas date back to 1925, when Albert
National Park was created by the Belgian government to help preserve their habitat. But
in the 1960's several factors severely devastated the population - civil unrest, poaching,
farming that devastated the forest, and colonial agricultural schemes.
The work done by George Schaller and later by
Dian Fossey to educate
the world on the importance of maintaining the gorilla's habitat has come a long way to help
this endangered species.
One exciting current project is the
Mountain Gorilla Geomatics Project which uses state-of-the-art technologies in support of on-going research
activities to preserve the Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga mountains, one of the least
mapped and more inaccessible areas in the world.
The Wildlife Conservation Society
of New York helped to establish the first conservation education program for Rwandans, where
poaching was still a problem.
International Gorilla Conservation Programme, CARE, and several other
international organizations are working to preserve the Gorilla's habitat. Before these
public awareness programs, half the local farmers wanted to convert the forest to farmland -
now most realize that conservation is the best strategy for the survival of this great
national resource for research and tourism.
Mountain Gorilla tracking is a huge attraction in East Africa - a unique experience that
leads you into the gorilla's world to meet them on their own terms. The combination of
international assistance, a renewed local sensitivity to the problem, the establishment
of preserves, and strictly enforced rules and guidelines has raised hopes for their future.