World Gorilla Day: Protecting species can boost tourism, says Wild Africa Fund

by MMC
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Support ongoing efforts to safeguard gorilla populations and habitat and reduce demand for commercial bushmeat that threatens them, says non-profit Wild Africa Fund in a statement marking World Gorilla Day gorillas, 2023.

The gorilla population is decreasing in Nigeria. The Cross River gorilla, which lives in the mountainous region between Nigeria and Cameroon, and Africa’s most endangered monkey species have been affected.

“There are estimated to be fewer than 300 individuals of these gorillas remaining in the wild, with 100 living in Cross River State in Nigeria and the rest in Cameroon,” the Wild Africa Fund said in a statement.

In Nigeria, they are found in the Afi Mountains Wildlife Reserve, Mbe Mountains and Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park. However, they face many threats, including hunting and habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, commercial logging, and encroachment of human settlements on its habitat.

Although gorilla hunting has declined in recent years, metal snares set for other animals destined for the bushmeat trade can also ensnare gorillas, leading to injury and, in some cases, death, the agency said. ‘organization.

“We cannot afford to lose even one of our 100 Cross River gorillas at this critical stage. Let us all come together to protect the Cross River Gorilla and ensure that this remarkable species continues to thrive in our country for generations to come,” said Festus Iyorah, Nigeria Representative at the Wild Africa Fund.

Read also: Wild Africa Fund calls for protection as Nigeria loses 75% of its elephant population in 30 years

Nigeria has taken important steps to address these challenges and protect the Cross River gorilla. The National Park Service and the Cross River State Government, in collaboration with local and international conservation organizations, have worked to safeguard gorilla habitat, enforce anti-poaching laws and promote community conservation initiatives . These efforts are crucial not only for the survival of the Cross River gorilla, but also for the preservation of our rich biodiversity and the sustainable development of our communities.

Protecting these great apes has several advantages. Gorilla-based tourism is an invaluable asset to some African countries like Rwanda and Uganda, providing a win-win scenario for both conservation and economic development. Tourists from around the world are drawn to the magic of gorilla encounters, making gorilla-based tourism a source of foreign exchange and funding for community development projects such as schools and health centers.

Gorilla trekking accounted for 14 percent of the $498 million Rwanda earned from tourism in 2018, when the government doubled the cost of gorilla trekking permits to US$1,500 per person. In 2018-19, tourism earned Uganda $1.6 billion, contributing 7.7% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing at least 667,000 people.

“If wildlife can be successfully protected in Nigeria, it can become a major driver of increased tourism and employment,” said Peter Knights, OBE, co-founder and CEO of the Wild Africa Fund.

Wild Africa Fund launched a month-long public awareness campaign using radio, television, newspapers, billboards and social media to inform people about threats to Cross Rivers gorillas and to amplify wildlife laws and anti-poaching measures that protect them. The campaign will feature messages from celebrity ambassadors including Davido, Laycon, Emanuella and Alex Iwobi, as well as short documentaries highlighting ongoing efforts to protect gorillas and their habitat.

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