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Helping Preserve The Last 700 Mountain Gorillas

Photos taken by & used with permission of: Juan Pablo Moreiras / FFI, Scott Farrell, Richard Cunningham & Katie Doyle

Zanzibar Trading Company has teamed up with the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) and Virunga Artisans to offer fairly traded products with a gorilla theme.

Zanzibar commits 100% of their profit from the sale of these items will be donated to the IGCP.

These hand-made products are crafted by artisans who live adjacent to Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo)/Mgahinga National Park (Uganda), and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a World Heritage Site in Uganda.

This region, comprised of forests atop a chain of volcanoes, serves as the home of the last 700+/- (the exact number is unknown) existing mountain gorillas. Human activity in the parks, caused by land scarcity and the lack of alternative livelihood sources, severely threatens the gorillas. The work from crafting these items provides local peoples with viable economic opportunities so they benefit from their proximity to these magnificent creatures and need not intrude on gorilla habitat.

The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla. There are two groups. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within 4 national parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga and Kahuzi-Biéga, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The other is found in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Some say that the Bwindi group in Uganda is a 3rd species, though no description has been finished.  They are MUCH rarer than the more common (although still endangered Lowland Gorillas).  It is estimated that there are approximately 700 living mountain gorillas.  There are no mountain gorillas outside the wild - there are none in zoos.

For more information on mountain gorillas, visit Wikipedia on Mountain Gorillas

Featured products include our hand carved wooden gorilla families.  Each gorilla is carved from sustainably harvested tree farm grown eucalyptus wood.  They are carved by men who USED to work in the highly destructive charcoal trade.  We have worked with these men to retrain them to carve gorillas in order to bring awareness to the plight of these endangered animals. 

Some of the organizations that we've teamed up with:


The Charcoal trade is notorious in Uganda, DRC and Rwanda for illegally harvesting mature old growth hardwood trees from the mountains where mountain gorillas live.  Gorilla habitat is disturbed and potentially life threatening human diseases are spread to the gorilla.  On occasion, gorillas are killed for their meat for the loggers or to sell in the bush markets.  Sometimes entire families of gorillas have been killed so an infant can be sold in the market as a pet. 

The eucalyptus wood comes from a tree farm where an enterprising man from the west planted fast growing eucalyptus trees (native to Australia) for use by the natives as firewood.  However, he didn't do his research:  Eucalyptus burns very quickly and gives off poisonous fumes and is thus not useable as a fuel source.  However, it makes great wood for carving little gorillas!

To understand why this is necessary, you have to understand the geography of these areas.  Much of the brush and trees surrounding human habitation has been cleared to burn as fuel in cooking fires or for construction material.  Firewood is very scarce and thousands of people travel miles to collect just enough wood to cook a meal with. 

Unlike other parts of Eastern Africa, many of the villages are high in the mountains and are under almost a constant overcast sky - thus traditional western methods of cooking with "solar cookers" will not work. 

Zanzibar commits 100% of their profit from the sale of these items will be donated to the IGCP.



This page is a work in progress. 


Zanzibar Tribal Art

1731 L Street   Sacramento CA 95814

(916) 443-2057