Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas?

Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas?

Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas?

Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas? : Mountain gorillas are an endangered species and a previously critically endangered species on the International Union of Conservation of Nature list of species. In the 19th century, the mountain gorillas were feared to be nearing extinction and these interesting animals can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic republic of Congo in the entire world. This is the Albertine rift and the Bwindi forest of Uganda.

Most of the gorilla deaths and the numbers of the mountain gorillas reducing was majorly at the hands of the poachers. Poachers are the greatest threat to the mountain gorillas and has been so since earlier than the 19th century. The mountain gorillas have a close relation to the human race and share up to 99% of the human DNA.

A one renown female primatologist, Dian Fossey, advocated for the conservation of the mountain gorillas and this is said to have been the probable cause of her death from angered poachers in 1985 as her body was found lifeless and a machete in the skull. Her tomb is in the Volcanoes national park and can be visited on a Dian Fossey tomb hike whose permit goes for 75 USD.

The conservation of mountain gorillas in the area could be highly attributed to her efforts and the numbers of the mountain gorillas have since been thriving. A few of the reasons as to why the poachers targeted the mountain gorillas among other wild animals are listed below.

Bush meat

The mountain gorillas were killed by poachers to be consumed as bush meat and this was one of the biggest and most common reasons of poaching these animals. The mountain gorillas stay in the forested parts and usually rebel groups or individuals seeking refuge tend to share this space with them. They hunted them down as a survival skill and this is majorly in the DR Congo’s Virunga national park.

The mountain gorillas also once poached and killed for bush meat, their meat was sold on the black markets and this meat was more expensive. They claimed the gorilla meat was more delicious thus the high demand for it. Selling the gorilla meat was also a high source of income as it was highly priced so everyone wanted a share of this.

Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas?
Why do poachers kill mountain gorillas?

Traditional importance

The poachers also targeted the mountain gorillas in relation to traditional beliefs about their body parts. Traditional healers and charmers often requested for the head, hands or their feet to perform their acts especially for those looking for power and strength in relation to the strength of the mountain gorillas.

One adult mountain gorilla would need about 6 adult men to wrestle it down and with this pressure, the mountain gorillas were a target. This was commonly heard in the Ugandan homes of the mountain gorillas.


The elite and wealthy in society let poachers abduct the mountain gorillas and caged them to keep as pets in their homes or their zoos and even in research centers. The mountain gorilla cannot thrive long in captivity and this eventually led to their sooner than supposed to be death.

The poachers were later on rewarded with large sums of money and this attracted many of them to want to join the business.


There were also some accidental mountain gorilla killings where a mountain gorilla got trapped by a snare that was set for another animal and if they were not found early enough or left badly injured, would eventually lose their lives.

Some gorillas also lost their lives in the conflicts in the area and stray bullets in the wars claimed some lives. This was a common in the areas of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Some poachers killed the mountain gorillas as they saw them as a threat and were competing with them in the area and to stay safe. The mountain gorillas would sometimes move to the areas closer to the human settlement and this is when they would face their fate.

Conservation of mountain gorillas has however been emphasized and harsh penalties are given to those found guilty of the act and this has seen numbers of the mountain gorillas growing and they were recently upgraded from being critically endangered to endangered as numbers recently elevated to over 1,000 plus gorillas left in the world. You can also contribute to the conservation of the mountain gorillas by booking a mountain gorilla permit on your Rwanda safari as a percentage of the money paid goes back in the conservation efforts in the area.

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