National Geographic : 1995 Oct
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GgU'le The Mountain Gorillas of Africa I Under pressure from farming and woodcutting, the land that harbors Africa's 600 or so sur viving mountain gorillas has been reduced to two forested "islands." About 300 gorillas live on the slopes of a few vol canic peaks on the borders of Rwanda, Zaire, and Uganda; the others inhabit the nearby Impenetrable Forest. To get a clear idea of just how small the total habitat is, you can make a simple map at home. With the map of Africa on page 69 as a guide, use 15 feet of string to lay out the shape of the continent on a table. If you make the con tinent four feet from north to south, a chocolate chip placed near the Equator in East Africa will approximate the size and lo cation of the remaining habitat. M By encouraging tourists to visit gorillas, conservationists helped protect them from illegal hunting. And now the gorillas are worth much more alive than dead. Why do you think that is so? * Many people are working to save the gorillas from extinc tion. What would the world lose if these gentle apes died out? Why might some people not want to save the gorillas? * After the mountain gorillas became a worldwide attraction, schoolchildren in Rwanda began to celebrate them, drawing pictures of the endangered animals and singing and writing about them. How might the concern, love, and enthusiasm of children help gorilla sur vival-both short-term and long-term? A Rwandan refugee in Zaire carries firewood (top) cut near the forest home of some of the world's last mountain gorillas. Across the border in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park (above), Fidele Nshogoza mon itors gorillas led by a silver back male. A mother of that group cradles her two-year-old (left) near the Karisoke Re search Center. USE GEOGUIDE ALONG WITH THE ARTICLE "THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS OF AFRICA" IN THIS ISSUE TO HELP CAPTURE THE INTEREST OF YOUNG READERS AND STIMULATE DISCUSSION WITH THEM. GEOGUIDE IS FEATURED FOUR TIMES A YEAR.