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How gorilla tourism can benefit wildlife and people | Stories

Although mountain gorillas are still an endangered species, there are signs of hope for their recovery. Just a couple of decades ago, the species was on the brink of extinction due primarily to human encroachment on the rain forest. Mountain gorillas faced habitat degradation and destruction, disease transmission from human contact, injury or death from poaching traps intended for other species, and more.

Today conservation efforts have increased mountain gorilla populations to more than 1,000 individuals. Help from governments, local communities, and international lending institutions, along with WWF, made it possible to protect the forest habitat.

Working through the International Gorilla Conservation Program, WWF supports and promotes best practices for gorilla tourism. These practices ensure that the presence of tourists does not put mountain gorillas’ well-being at risk. The genetic relatedness between humans and gorillas makes gorillas especially susceptible to human pathogens—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Uganda, all travelers wore masks, washed their hands and boots, and kept their distance from the gorillas to prevent disease transmission.

Gorilla tourism also benefits local communities. WWF works to ensure economic benefits for the communities and to prevent human-wildlife conflict.

We also collaborate with—and were a founding member of—the International Gorilla Conservation Program to help establish community-owned ecolodges; promote employment of local people as porters, guides, and park rangers; and invest a portion of tourist fees in community projects. In addition, the conservation program built large rainwater harvesting tanks that give communities a reliable source of fresh water and limit the need to travel through gorilla forest habitat for water.

WWF is dedicated to securing a better future for this iconic species. Through these collaborative efforts, we aim to safeguard wildlife, support local communities, and protect the planet we call home.


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