For ages gorillas had the protection that Mother Nature provided by way of expansive tracts of unspoiled Central African forest. Then came logging and roads and suddenly, people were in much closer range to our primate cohabitants. Next came subsistence hunting, which escalated into an illegal commercial trade in gorilla meat that sees the animals butchered, transported and sold. "An increasing number of them make it as far as cities, where restaurants serve up “bushmeat” to wealthy clientele," reports USA Today.
And the rich don't just want to dine on primates. Poachers now also illegally hunt gorillas for body parts used in folk remedies and for trophies; heads, hands and feet are sought after. In Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo’s, mountain gorillas are shot execution-style by traders who illegally harvest protected wood from there.
All species of gorilla are feeling the impact of plummeting numbers; at this point reproduction is so constrained that the deaths of even a few animals at the hands of poachers stand to have a major impact on the population, notes The Week: "According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, by the middle of this century we may well have wiped out more than 80 percent of all western gorillas in just three generations."