All You Need To Know About Mountain Gorillas In Uganda
Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are a critically endangered species of gorillas found in the Virunga Mountains, which border Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here’s what you need to know about mountain gorillas in Uganda:
Gorilla Population in Uganda
Uganda is home to about 538 mountain gorillas. This is around 50.4% of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. As of 2020, the estimated number of mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park was around 460 individuals but given the baby boom of 2020, the population has exponentially increased.
Gorilla Habitats in Uganda
Mountain gorillas inhabit the dense forests and bamboo thickets of the Virunga Mountains, which are part of the larger Albertine Rift ecosystem. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda are the two protected areas where these gorillas are found.
Conservation of Gorilla Habitats and The Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas face numerous threats, including habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. However, conservation efforts have been successful in stabilizing and increasing their population. Stringent protection measures, community involvement, and ecotourism have contributed significantly to their conservation.
One of the forefront runners in the conservation of mountain gorillas in Uganda includes the Uganda wildlife authority, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), and several other local stakeholders.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking In Uganda
Uganda offers gorilla trekking experiences, allowing visitors to track and observe mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. It is a unique and highly regulated activity that requires permits and adherence to strict guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the gorillas.
Permits and Regulations
To participate in gorilla trekking in Uganda, you need to obtain a gorilla trekking permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Permits are limited in number and require advance booking. They come at a considerable cost, which goes toward conservation efforts. The permits usually grant a specific time and group to visit.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking Experience
Gorilla trekking involves hiking through the forest with trained guides and trackers to locate a habituated gorilla group. The duration of the trek can vary from a few hours to a full day, depending on the gorillas’ location. Once found, visitors spend a limited time (usually one hour) observing the gorillas from a respectful distance.
Gorilla Habituation Experience
In addition to regular gorilla trekking, Uganda offers a unique Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This activity allows a more extended interaction with a gorilla group undergoing the habituation process, where they become accustomed to human presence.
Gorilla tourism has had a significant positive impact on the conservation of mountain gorillas. Revenue generated from permits and tourism activities directly supports gorilla protection efforts, habitat conservation, and community development, fostering a sustainable approach to wildlife conservation.
Importance of Gorilla Conservation
Mountain gorillas are a flagship species for conservation, and their protection has broader ecological and socio-economic implications. Safeguarding their habitat contributes to the overall health of the Albertine Rift ecosystem, and it provides economic opportunities for local communities through tourism.
When visiting mountain gorillas, it is essential to adhere to strict guidelines to minimize disturbance and ensure the gorillas’ well-being. Maintain a safe distance, follow the instructions of the guides, and practice good hygiene to prevent disease transmission. Responsible tourism practices contribute to the long-term survival of these magnificent creatures.
In case you wish to book a gorilla safari, check out the Uganda tour operators association for a trusted operator. Please note, the operator should also have a license from the Uganda tourism board.