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UGANDAN GORILLAS UNDER THREAT

BWUNDI,Uganda - The mountain gorilla is fearless in the face of strangers on his territory, but the endangered ape is unaware the family group he guards survives by the thinnest of threads.
The gorillas here in Uganda's lush forests are protected by the economic lifeline they create for remote communities from the tourist dollars they generate, providing a key incentive for humans to protect the giant animals.
The forest in Uganda's far southwest is home to an estimated 400 mountain gorillas -- roughly half of the world’s population -- including several families which have been habituated to human presence.
But it is the income from tourism that is helping protect the animals, which in the past were regularly hunted for their meat, and by farmers to protect their crops.
  • "In order to protect this endangered specie we needed to show the economic benefit of these gorillas," said Charles Tumwesigye, deputy head of conservation for the government's Ugandan Wildlife Authority.
  • "Tourism started as a way of showing the people that gorillas can be economically important, that we can earn revenue which can improve your livelihood".
  • Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo are the only countries in the world where you can see the giant primates.
  • But the privilege comes at a high price , costing some $600 (450 euros) for a single, brief visit.

Conflict remains, such as the destruction of crops and property, and competition for natural resources. 
Habitat destruction and human population growth increasingly bring locals into contact with the gorillas, resulting in the transmission of human diseases and occasional animal attacks.
Ape experts this week warned that accelerated and unsustainable exploitation of the earth's primary natural resources has become a major threat to apes in Africa and Asia.

Source: News daily, AFP
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