With the recent uproar around trophy hunting of lions and elephants, the spotlight has once again been put on big African game and their chances of species survival. Although the backlash against president Trump’s proposed lift of the ban is arguably justified, one-off poaching is far from the biggest threat facing these creatures today. Ivory is worth more than gold, and there is bound to be very nefarious people involved in it’s consumption.
For decades, there has been speculation that the ivory trade has been linked to terrorism, but in the documentary Warlords of Ivory, National Geographic reporter Bryan Christy was able to prove just that. Using a GPS hidden inside a false piece of ivory, Christy was able to track the contraband straight to Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group located in Uganda that brutally kills both people and animals.
The constant struggle with terrorists is one that the park rangers of Virunga National Park know all too well. Eastern gorillas suffer greatly at the hand of terrorism, and the park rangers risk their lives every day to save the largest primates in the world from extinction, giving Virunga the moniker as the World’s Most Dangerous Park. Located in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga has been relegated to a 3,000 square mile reserve but despite the park’s protected status, the gorillas are in constant threat.
In addition to suffering from the near-constant gunfire from terrorist group Allied Democratic Forces located within the park, Mountain gorillas have to struggle with a daily possibility as being used for bushmeat, and have survived multiple wars, including the 1994 Rwandan genocide. fewer than 5,000 Eastern gorillas in existence and populations decreasing, there is little margin for error. For Mountain gorillas (one of two sub-species of Eastern gorillas), the outlook is even worse. According to UCN, mountain gorillas are classified as “Critically Endangered”, one step way from being “Extinct in the Wild”.
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