Mountain Gorillas are a critically endangered primate species – This brings to mind the questions of where do Mountain Gorillas live? and what climate they live in and Mountain Gorillas cannot survive in the captivity.
Mountain Gorillas in zoos are the western lowland Gorillas. Why one subspecies would survive and another cannot is hard to say. This is why all the Mountain Gorillas live in the Wild and nowhere else.
Mountain Gorillas live in high forested mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing. But as humans have moved more and more into the Gorillas’ territory, the Gorillas have been pushed farther up into the mountains for longer periods, forcing them to endure dangerous and sometimes deadly conditions.
What might have been a bleak outlook for the subspecies just a couple of decades ago have brightened in recent years due to conservation efforts? Despite on-going civil conflict, poaching and an encroaching human population, both populations of mountain Gorillas have increased in numbers.
The world’s last remaining Mountain Gorillas live in three countries and span four National Parks of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are the only places where you can see the Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.
In Uganda, you can see Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks. The presence of these two locations is why Uganda has the biggest population of Mountain Gorillas in the world. This is also why it is greatly regarded for Gorilla trekking trips and Gorilla conservation efforts.
To reach where Mountain Gorillas are found, you visit the respective national parks. To track Mountain Gorillas, you have to buy a Gorilla permit that allows you to go into the thick forests where they live. A Gorilla tracking permit can be bought from the Uganda Wildlife Authority through a safari company like Great Adventure Safaris on your behalf.
In Rwanda, Mountain Gorillas can be seen in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcan). The Park is on the North-western part of the country and neighbours to Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park.
It is in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park that Dian Fossey undertook her ground-breaking Gorilla research, which has helped in the conservation of gorillas and other primates.
Gorilla permits in Rwanda can also be obtained via the Rwanda Development Board which is the government body in charge of issuing the permits to see the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, you can see Gorillas in Virunga National park. The park neighbours both Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
While Democratic Republic of Congo has been disturbed by internal conflicts for many years, the good collaboration with Uganda and Rwanda, plus other conservation partners has enabled the study and preservation of the habitat for mountain gorillas.
While we have organised Gorilla trekking adventures in Both Uganda and Rwanda, we haven’t ventured into the Democratic Republic of Congo because of the security and safety for our guest and ourselves. By visiting any of the places where they live, you will be able to see Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.
Much as Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species, conservation efforts have paid off very well and their population is increasing indeed. This is incredible work and the organisations and institutions involved have proved that something can actually be done for all the other endangered and at-risk species of plants or animals.
Recent statistics indicate there are 1080 Mountain Gorillas living in the wild. This is good news because the 2003 census estimated a population of 380 individuals. This means that the population has more than doubled in a period of 15 years. This, however, does not mean that the threats to their livelihood are completely eliminated.
Local communities are able to benefit a great deal from Gorilla tourism, and this has kept them from encroaching on their habitat for agricultural land, timber and poaching (of other animals, which at times kills gorillas in the traps). One way of contributing to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas is by supporting Gorilla tourism. Money from such tourism activities directly benefits the neighbouring communities, as well as support farther conservation and protection of the environment.