Save the Gorillas

In Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael, he writes:


“This sign stopped me – or rather, this text stopped me. Words are my profession; I seized these and demanded that they explain themselves, that they cease to be ambiguous. Did they imply that hope for gorillas lay in the extinction of the human race or in its survival? It could be read either way.
It was, of course, a koan – meant to be inexplicable. It disgusted me for that reason, and for another reason: because it appeared that this magnificent creature beyond the glass was being held in captivity for no other reason than to serve as a sort of animate Illustration for this koan.”

The Merriam-Webster Concise Encyclopedia defines a koan as a brief paradoxical statement or question used as a discipline in meditation (Zen Buddhism). The effort to solve a koan is designed to exhaust the analytic intellect and the will, leaving the mind open for response on an intuitive level.

Upon reading that I began to think of all of the “great deeds” humans do for wildlife. We have wildlife conservation laws, fund non-profit organizations with goals to conserve wildlife (including the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund), and the new generation is putting a lot of attention on wildlife conservation, renewable energy, and environmental conservation.

With that being said, it seems that we are doing a lot to harbor our own progress. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Gorillas as “critically endangered”.

Gorilla poaching is popular in central Africa. Sometimes poachers will kill the gorilla and only take parts of the meat, leaving the rest to be wasted and rot in the heat, but most of the time the poachers leave no evidence, making it difficult for scientists to know exactly how many Gorillas have been poached.

In the 1990’s Rwanda was facing riots and violent conflict, forcing refugees to flee into the Virunga National Park. They harvested firewood and killed gorillas to survive. The UN reports that four silverbacks and several other members of a group were killed in this struggle, greatly harboring their chances of survival. By 1996 the refugee’s had left the area, but left devastating (and lasting) effects on the gorilla population. The UN reports that even before the 1990’s riots, some gorilla populations were reaching as low as 300 individuals. [1]

Hope, however, is on it’s way. Perhaps, by leaving gorillas to their own devices, they will recover eventually, but an article published by BBC News in 2006 stated that over 5,000 gorillas in central Africa have been wiped out by the Ebola virus, indicating that the big picture may include more than just anthropogenic causes. [2]

Maybe gorillas need humans, maybe they don’t, but the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), the Mountain Gorilla Project, and collective efforts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are helping make the recovery of gorilla populations a little easier.

The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF) is raising a money to help protect the Mountain Gorilla populations in Africa. You can donate or join the Denver Gorilla Run Fundraiser (and more) at They also have a gorilla store where you can purchase silver jewelry, ties, silverback gorilla plushies, and even a gorilla suit.

Source Info:
[1] “Forced off their land” (n.d.) Works to protect endangered species. The UN. Retrieved January 29, 2013
[2] “Ebola kills over 5,000 gorillas” (2006 Dec. 8) BBC News. Retrieved January 29, 2013 from

*Sources are not cited exactly to APA/MLA standards and shouldn’t be used directly for sourcing. Enough information is provided to refer you to the source so you can read the articles if you’re interested.


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