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Ecotourism
Poaching is devastating the mountain gorilla population. Often poachers must kill the silverback and mother to get a baby gorilla, which is valued because of its appeal, adaptability, and ease of care and transport. Although the market for baby gorillas no longer exists, many game traps are still in place. Consequently, gorillas are still caught and mutilated by them.

How much is a gorilla worth? What is the value of the forest in which the mountain gorillas live and the land upon which the forest grows? These may seem harsh questions, but they are asked daily by the teeming (and growing) throngs of people who live all around the base of the Virunga Mountains. People for whom obtaining sufficient food to survive, clothes to wear, and fuel (usually wood) to cook with is a daily struggle.

The three nations dividing the Virungas are among the poorest in the world, and their populations are among the fastest growing. In Rwanda and Uganda, nearly all arable lands have been converted for cultivation or pasturage for over a decade, and in Congo, the rainforest is quickly disappearing to provide agricultural land for the burgeoning population. Foreign capital needed to finance investments in improved farming methods and crop seed, medicine, machinery for industry, and modernization is limited.

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