The conservation success story is now facing a different challenge.
The growing numbers of gorillas struggle to coexist in a shrinking habitat.
Prosper Uwingeli, director of the Volcanoes National Park, offers some context.
“We have seen challenges, the challenges of the habitat because in the past 60, 50 years, the park lost 54 percent of its size. And when the effort was put in place for the mountain gorilla population to recover to the current numbers, the habitat has not changed”, he says.
According to the last census, there are more than 1,000 mountain apes left in the world. The rising numbers, however, can lead to fighting between the primates, according to the director of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda.
“The interactions themselves changed in the sense that they became very violent, and during this (interaction) period, we have recorded seven silverbacks’ (male gorillas) deaths. So that’s again a consequence of more groups ranging in the same area without expanding and going to the rest of the park, and thus leading to more intergroup interactions, and then more infanticides”, says Felix Ndagijimana.
In order to improve the current situation, Rwandan authorities have decided to extend the park therefore providing more space to the mountain gorillas.
The expansion however means displacing some families.
Ten percent of tourism revenues in Rwanda is used for building schools, amenities and for a compensation fund.