International Gorilla Conservation Programme

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is IGCP funded?

IGCP is funded from a variety of donors, including bilateral agencies such as the US Agency for International Development, multilateral donors such as the World Bank and the European Union, as well as a number of foundations, such as the MacArthur Foundation. Individual donors have supported the programme throughout the conflict, thus ensuring that the programme was able to continue operating at times when governments were unable to provide support, due to the politics in the region.

Why are there no mountain gorillas in captivity?

In the 1960s and 70s numerous attempts were made to capture live mountain gorillas and start a captive population. Many adult gorillas were killed to obtain live babies, none of which survived in captivity. The reason why they failed to survive is unclear, since lowland gorillas have been kept and even bred successfully in captivity. Perhaps their dietary needs are more specific, or they were affected by stress and therefore succumbed to disease more rapidly. To date, no mountain gorillas are known to exist in any captive facility.

What are the main threats to mountain gorillas?

Although poaching remains a serious issue, the greatest threats to mountain gorillas are habitat loss and disease (see Threats)

What is the difference between a mountain gorilla and other gorillas?

Mountain gorillas have longer hair and tend to be more grey than brown. Their faces are more densely covered in hair. They are also a little bit bigger. Their family structures resemble a harem, with one or a small number of dominant males and a stable group of females. Other gorillas live in less stable family structures and group composition and group size changes much more frequently. For more information, (see Mountain gorillas).

Which gorillas do you see in zoos?

All the gorillas in zoos are lowland gorillas. Most of them are actually western lowland gorillas (see Great apes).

How can I visit the gorillas?

Many tour operators provide trips to visit the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. For a comprehensive list, download the PDF below, and see Links. Only a small number of people can visit the gorillas each day, so it is important to book gorilla permits well in advance. Visiting the gorillas can be physically strenuous, so visitors must be moderately fit and suitably equipped for walking on forested mountain trails.

List of tour operators

How safe is it to visit the gorillas?

The gorillas are not aggressive and rarely react to the visitors, let alone behave in a threatening manner. Tourists must follow strict rules in order to minimize the risk of disease transmission (from human to gorilla!) and avoid causing stress to the animals (see Tourism). A twisted ankle, sustained during a heavy fall on the steep trails, is a far more likely occurrence than an injury resulting from a gorilla encounter. Rwanda and Uganda are safe destinations, and gorilla tourism is on the increase. For the most up-to-date travel advice, we recommend that you visit your embassy's website.

How can I support the work of IGCP?

For details of the ways in which you can help the programme,
see Join us.

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Juvenile mountain gorilla -  Martin Harvey / WWF