Why are gorilla endangered?

Why are gorilla endangered? | threaten mountain gorillas

Why are gorilla endangered?

Why are gorilla endangered? Gorillas are considered endangered due to their small population and the likelihood of becoming extinct. Before we can venture into why they are endangered, you need to understand a little more about where they live and their behavior.

Gorillas are only found in the forests of Central Africa and they live in bands of 6-12 gorillas, with the oldest and strongest silverback (male) leading the family. The silverback gorillas are the one who decides where the family will travel each day, when they will eat, and even when and where they will stop for the night. The females of the family usually have one baby every four years which means that gorilla populations increase very slowly.

Gorillas are herbivores and consume only the plants that they can find in their habitat. This may be leaves, stems, roots, vines, herbs, trees, grass, or even fruit as well as bamboo shoots. This type of food is low in nutrition so gorillas need to eat a lot of it to survive. For example, a male gorilla can eat more than 40 lbs. of vegetation per day. Fortunately, gorillas don’t have to stop for water that often, because they get most of the water they need from the plants they eat.

Using the above facts about Why are gorilla endangered? we can now understand why these magnificent creatures are endangered.


It is very difficult for scientists to track the number of gorillas left in the world accurately because gorillas are shy creatures. Therefore, scientists must rely on the evidence gorillas leave behind to know if they live in a habitat. Even though scientists disagree on the exact number of gorillas, they all agree that their numbers have severely decreased. Several factors have led to this and these include the following.

Habitat Loss

As humans have moved into areas near mountain gorillas, they have cleared land for agriculture and livestock. Even land within protected areas is not safe from clearing—in 2004, for example, illegal settlers cleared 3,700 acres of gorilla forest in Virunga National Park.


Gorillas that come into contact with humans can be vulnerable to human diseases, which gorillas experience in more severe forms. Mountain gorillas can even die from the common cold. However, studies have found that mountain gorillas that are regularly habituated with researchers and tourists have survived better than unvisited gorillas; they benefit from the greater protection available in those areas and from regular monitoring. Increased survival is also largely due to better veterinary care of sick and injured gorillas.

Charcoal Making

Inside the gorilla habitat in for instance Virunga National Park, people harvest charcoal for use as a fuel source in cooking and heating. This charcoal production is an illegal, multi-million-dollar industry that has destroyed the gorilla habitat.


There is little to no direct targeting of mountain gorillas for bushmeat or pet trade but they can be caught and harmed by snares set for other animals.

Traditional medicine | Why are gorilla endangered?

For instance, the war in Rwanda in the early 1990s and years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent waves of refugees into the region around the Virunga Mountains parks that are home to more than half the mountain gorilla population, leading to poaching and destruction of gorilla habitat. And parts of the park inhabited by gorillas have been taken over by rebels, making survey and conservation work difficult and dangerous. Since 1996, 140 Virunga rangers have been killed in the line of duty.

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