The Effects of the Ebola Virus on the Western Lowland Gorilla

Every year The World Conservation Union publishes a list of animals they have deemed to be threatened. The animals that should concern us most are the primates, possibly because they are so related to us. So we should always be concerned when an ape or another primate is endangered. After all, there is so much of us in them.

Currently, the Western gorilla is critically endangered. Their numbers fell dramatically during the 1980’s. Hunting was a big cause of this but so was the Ebola virus. Who knew that Ebola, which haunts humans, afflicts apes as well? Apparently both of these continue to affect the gorilla populations. We can likely do something about the hunting of the great ape but maybe not the Ebola situation.

Researchers have determined that Ebola will continue to afflict the animals and potentially it could very well wipe them out. It is expected that their population will drop by 40% or 45% between 1992 and 2011. Unless and until we find a cure for Ebola for humans that could maybe be adapted for the use in primates. The other problem would be to deliver any cure that might be found. How do you get apes into a clinic for a vaccine? Perhaps food could be a delivery source.

We should all be very concerned about this whole situation. If we can’t take care of our primate relatives how can we take care of ourselves?  While we might not be able to do much about the Ebola virus we can certainly do something about the hunting of these creatures. The majority of the kills are used for food. It is referred to as bush meat.

Perhaps we need to find a way for local human populations to eat. It might be difficult to wean them from this kind of meat especially if it is a cultural thing but it needs to be done. Cultural habits are tough to break and it could be argued that we are in no position to tell some of these other peoples how they should express their culture. They have been doing these things for perhaps thousands of years. White Europeans have not been very successful at changing cultural influences like that; history shows we end up killing off the native groups rather than helping them. 

These animals are so closely related to us that it boggles the mind that we can allow this to happen. We now have a twofold reason to find a cure for Ebola but since both issues are so very far removed from us white non-Africans that it will never be a priority.