Ecotourism finance the protection of Gabon's silverback gorillas

Every morning, the ecoguides at Loango National Park in Gabon go deep into the forest to find gorillas, hoping these apes don't regain their natural fear of humans.

They soon find Kamaya, one of the approximately 1,500 silverback gorillas that live in the nature reserve. To them, he is an old friend as he hasn't run away from humans for a while now.

"Kamaya is sitting comfortably, he's lying down, he's sleeping, he's confident in us", said Hermann Landry, an ecoguide of the park. "The tourists, they come (to) see them and they're going to serve as ambassadors for their own protection,” he added.

The immense Loango Park attracts tourists who are prepared to pay a lot of money to observe these wild apes in their natural habitat. They spend 300,000 CFA francs, or about 450 euros, for one hour with the gorillas, in addition to access to the park and accommodation.

Their visits have just resumed after being suspended for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ecotourism is a source of revenue to finance the protection of nature resorts and wildlife. "Tourism allows us to bring in the funds needed to run the park and protect the gorillas, but also other species through them. They are a flagship species," said Koro Vogt, Gorilla Loango project manager, "they are very charismatic, and they help to protect other species through their own protection."  

(Cover image is a screenshot.)

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