Gorilla conservation is the protection and restoration of extremely endangered species of African gorillas. Populations of some gorilla species have dwindled into the hundreds, and gorilla conservation seeks to keep these animals from going entirely extinct. Local and international governments, private citizens and conservation groups typically work together to protect wild gorillas from poachers and help to restore native populations. Gorilla conservation facilities often care for infant gorillas who have lost their parents, making sure that these animals can thrive successfully in the wild as adults. Conservation workers also try to work with local residents to help preserve gorilla habitats and the gorillas themselves without sacrificing the needs of local communities.
Governments and organizations are attempting to aid in gorilla conservation in several ways. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), conservation-focused charities, and government agencies often contribute money for the establishment of wildlife preserves, where gorillas can live free of danger. Public health programs seek to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of diseases, like ebola, that are dangerous to both humans and gorillas. Another key part of gorilla conservation is the establishment of new industries that can allow local residents to earn income and care for themselves in a manner that doesn't negatively impact the local ecosystem or damage native animal populations.
Conservation groups believe that one of the best ways for local residents to earn income without harming local gorillas and other wildlife is through eco-tourism. These new businesses cater to tourists seeking the chance to view gorillas in their natural habitat. The development of a sound eco-tourism industry can help local residents earn money for food, rather than hunting wild animals. It provides an incentive for people to protect and care for wild gorilla populations. Eco-tourism can also offer an alternative source of income for local farmers, reducing human encroachment on gorilla habitats.
Threats to wild African gorillas generally include human encroachment on habitat, hunting, and disease. Many native Africans hunt wild animals for food. Local residents often don't have enough income to buy meat for themselves and rely on hunting. Local officials often don't have the resources to effectively enforce laws intended to protect gorillas and other African animals from the hunters. Gorillas, in particular, are considered a choice meat by many, which means that they are often singled out by hunters and poachers.