More than three decades ago, the Mountain Gorilla project started a tourism project to save the threatened gorilla population from poaching. The project hired poachers as park rangers and demonstrated that live gorillas were much more valuable as tourist attractions than dead ones. Since then, gorilla tourism has added hundreds of millions of foreign tourist dollars to state coffers in Central Africa, and the great ape populations have seen a modest rebound.
Some scientists warn that the economic incentives of gorilla tourism may be taking over the goal of conservation. Michele Goldsmith is among them. She’s a primatologist who teaches at Southern New Hampshire University. She’ll be speaking about the delicate balance of eco-tourism at the TEDx Amoskeag Millyard event.