While it might feel like the world is all doom and gloom at the moment, there’s some good news coming out of Uganda, where two new baby gorillas have been born in the same national park.
The babies were born in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in July to separate groups of gorillas – the Mubare group and the Oruzogo group – as part of a gorilla ‘baby boom’ in the protected forest popular with tourists.
Rafiki went missing on June 1 and was found dead the very next day. A Ugandan man was arrested in connection to his death on June 4, while in possession of several hunting items. However, he told investigators he killed the gorilla in self-defence.
Bashir Hangi, a spokesperson for Uganda Wildlife Authority, said, as per the New York Times:
For us it’s a sign of relief. We lost one. We got two. But, of course, losing one is bad enough.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, mountain gorillas are still regarded as endangered species. Up until November 2018, they were classed as critically endangered, which means the population is growing slowly, but surely.
The number of mountain gorillas across Eastern Africa has dropped dramatically during the past century as a result of poaching, illness and human encroachment. In recent years, some of Uganda’s gorillas have died of natural causes, some have fallen from trees, while others have died after battling for territory or dominance. Another major threat to the beautiful creatures has been poaching.
There’s estimated to be around 1,000 mountain gorillas living in protected areas in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, as they draw in a lot of tourism revenue in these particular areas. This is because a gorilla tracking permit costs $600 in Uganda, and thousands of tourists pay this every year. Trackers can cost up to $1,000 in Rwanda.
This money is essential in allowing authorities to adequately protect the animals, by investing in anti-poaching activities and helping local communities.
Sadly, many animals have been left vulnerable in recent months, as the pandemic has dramatically cut the number of tourists visiting the areas, which has raised concerns over how to best protect these vulnerable animals.
The birth of these two new baby gorillas is a beautiful sign of hope for the future.
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