What are the main threats?
Hunting and trade
Hunting is the main threat to western lowland gorillas. Gorillas are sought after as food (bushmeat) and pets, and their body parts are used in medicine and as magical charms.
The impact of hunting on gorilla population has proven to be dramatic. In North East Congo, it has been estimated that approximately 5% of gorillas are killed by hunters each year.
Despite national and international laws prohibit the hunting and capture of gorillas throughout their range, rampant corruption in the wildlife legal system weakens the enforcement of existing legislation.
Habitat loss and degradation
Timber is a major export in Central Africa. Vast areas of rainforest in the western lowland gorilla's habitat in the Congo Basin have been destroyed or leased out to European and Asian logging companies.
The increase in timber extraction and the opening of once remote forest areas, together with the easy transport provided by logging vehicles to distant markets, have also facilitated the bushmeat trade. The expansion of agriculture also poses a threat, particularly the growth in oil palm plantations.
Central Africa, the home of western lowland gorillas, has been dramatically affected by Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Some scientists estimate that Ebola has killed about one-third of the wild gorilla population here, mainly western lowland gorillas. Evidence suggests that the virus may still be moving through the Congo Basin, placing a large gorilla population at risk.