It is extraordinary that F. Woods would express dismay on behalf of his Toastmasters Travel Club regarding gorilla tracking (Readers' Letters, Aug. 14). Gorillas are indeed an endangered species; however, due to poachers, not organized tourism. It is only because of the efforts of Diane Fossey, her Digit Foundation, and the resulting controlled tourism that these magnificent animals have been spared extinction.
As Roderick Mann's article (Aug. 7) pointed out, groups are limited to six people and very strict instructions are given on behavior, etc. Because of this limited tourism, for the first time ever, government officials of Rwanda and Zaire have taken an interest in their mountain gorillas and contributed to the effort to stop the horrendous poaching that is not only for frightful souvenirs (gorilla hands as ashtrays) but for zoos as well.
The kidnaping of one baby, generally for a zoo, can cause the destruction and death of an entire family.
Recommended reading for his club should include Diane Fossey's "Gorillas in the Mist" if they are really concerned about these extraordinary animals, not to mention Mann's article. Surely had they read the article they would never be able to suggest that tourism of this kind in any way harms these gentle beasts.
NICOLAS J. DENNISON