Gorilla Tourism Benefits Local Communities

After your visit, you can help to spread the word about gorilla tourism. Primate-based ecotourism has played an important role in creating awareness and generating funds for conservation and development within Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past 20 years, gorilla tourism has been the most successful tool for protecting gorillas in these countries. Local people have now widely embraced gorilla tourism as a form of additional income.

Gorilla tourism has also created jobs for the locals as well as generating direct revenue from the sale of goods or provision of services such as guiding, transportation, and more. Spreading the word about gorilla tourism will help to attract tourists to the parks and therefore more benefits can be realized in terms of generating funds for conservation and development.

Visitors are also encouraged to participate in campaigns like the ‘Friend a Gorilla’ campaign aimed at protecting the mountain gorillas. This Uganda Wildlife Authority initiative was started to promote and educate the world about Uganda’s mountain gorillas. With as low as USD$1 you can befriend a gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Once you become friends with a gorilla you will receive regular updates on their activities within the forest through Facebook and Twitter.

In June 2014, The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) and Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) announced the launch of the Gorilla Friendly™ Pledge, an awareness raising campaign developed to minimize the risk of disease transmission from humans to gorilla. It is encouraged that visitors should take the pledge before their visit, but even after your trek you can create awareness about gorilla-human interaction and help educate future trackers to promote sustainable gorilla watching in Africa.

Giving feedback after your trip is very important. You can share your gorilla safari experience with fellow travelers on review websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely planet among others. Your response will help future visitors, and the information you provide will be analyzed on a regular basis by conservationists and tourism managers as a means to monitor and improve on the practice of gorilla tourism over time.

There are a large number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) as well as national authorities that work in protecting the endangered mountain gorillas. Some of these organizations have been involved in various gorilla and primate action plans, conservation initiatives and programmes, which deal with a range of issues. Your contribution will help to promote the conservation work done by these people.

Busingye Asserts More Grip on Young Gorilla Family

The southern sector has undergone a lot of transformation since gorilla tourism effectively took root. Originally, the sector had got only Nshongi gorilla group which had the world’s largest mountain gorilla numbers in the family at its habituation. The group has since broken into three more families including Mishaya and Bweza.

The habituation of Kahungye however in the same sector has witnessed yet again another break away family established in the name of Busingye. Many gorilla tourists will find this welcome news as more permits will be available and thus tracking options. This latest secession has now brought the total family groups to a remarkable five all in one sector. The group is led by an ambitious Silver Back whose now legendary fights in the wild for adult females have earned him a privileged place in the circles of his peers. Busingye last split from the mother family of Kahungye on 4th June 2012 while Bweza split from the mother Shongi group on 1st August 2012.

Research from BMCA monitoring team led by Research Warden Kato Raymond indicates no intentions of the break way groups to fuse back to their parent families in future. Interactions between the “mother” families with their breakaway factions have always been characterized by fierce battles mostly restricted to the dominant males guarding their turf. Each group has since whenever possibilities occur tried to avoid direct interactions with one another for fear of the potential loss of members from the resultant fight.

The strong Busingye silver back has however from time to time showed how capable he is to tilt the power balance in the south which has a crowded home range of its habituated gorillas that keep over lapping one another. Whenever he interacts with a wild family, he mercilessly grabs a female from that group for himself.

The Area Conservation Manager BMCA Mr. Pontious Ezuma contends that with these gorilla dynamics coming into play, UWA has got more space available for tourists who intend to do gorilla tracking in the southern sector. He advises that the visitors can now book this family because it is one of the versatile and exciting groups one can visit for a memorable time while in Bwindi’s Impenetrable park for gorilla tourism.

Baby Boom for Uganda’s Mountain Gorillas

Uganda mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have recorded ‘baby boom’ after five (5) births have been registered within a period of only 6 weeks. The latest birth was recorded at Rushegura gorilla family group of Buhoma sector, one of the best regions where gorilla trekking is carried out by tourists on Uganda gorilla safaris in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Since January and amidst covid-19 pandemic, 7 bouncing baby gorillas have been recorded in Uganda just before the end of 2020 unlike only 3 that were registered in 2019. It should be taken note that mountain gorillas are listed among the endangered species with fewer than 1063 of them still in existing in the wild and only in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They were removed from the list of ‘critically endangered species’ by IUCN in 2018 following the intense efforts put to protect and conserve them.

With all the challenges Uganda Wildlife Authority and other conservation agencies are still facing in ensuring gorilla conservation and protection, new births like these ones are indication of conservationist commitment to save the lives of these rare apes and their natural habitat. Other gorilla births that have been recorded this year in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are from mother gorilla Nyampazi on 22nd July 2020 (Mubare gorilla family) and Katoto female gorilla on 25th July 2020 in Oruzongo group. Another gorilla birth was recorded from Kibande Rushegura family in addition to the latest birth from Ruterana adult female gorilla still in Rushegura group.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda shelters 459 of the world’s 1063 mountain gorillas. Of these, about 20 groups have been habituated and readily available for gorilla trekking experience in this park and treks are limited to only persons above 15 years provided he or she has a valid gorilla permit. Each Uganda gorilla permit is obtainable at $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 foreign residents and Uganda UGX 250000 for East Africa community citizens.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park sits in an area of 331square kilometres and it was established in 1991 with a purpose of protecting and conserving mountain gorillas, their habitat and other wildlife species. There are 4 regions where visitors on Uganda gorilla tour can commence their search for mountain gorillas in Bwindi and these include Ruhija, Buhoma, Nkuringo and Rushaga area.

Gorilla Baby Boom in Bwindi – Fifth New Baby in Just 6 weeks

The staff of Uganda Wildlife Authority- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have risen to yet another ecstatic moment of a new baby gorilla with Mucunguzi family coming through on 4th Sept 2020 from Adult Female Ndinkahe. On the other hand, Rushegura gorilla family brought forth a baby from Adult Female Ruterana increasing the family membership to 18 gorillas and two for the group same year!

This takes the tally of new births in Bwindi forest to 5 in just six weeks and fourteen in the year! The new Rushegura baby marks Ruterana’s third offspring in the family. Ruterana particularly has not had a smooth tide with keeping her offsprings alive. When she was 12 years, her first offspring born September, 13, 2012 sadly succumbed to Pneumonia while only fortnight old. The other birth in the family came from Kibande on August 27, 2020. Kibande’s new baby marks her fifth surviving offspring in group. She is also the most senior lady and kingmaker of the family.

Not long ago in April 2020, Rushaga sector registered birth of two babies in Muyambi and Nshongi gorilla groups. According to the Chief Warden BMCA Guma Nelson, the new babies then were thought to have been born on April 25 and May 1, 2020, respectively. Mother Kabagyenyi and Silverback Bweza of Nshongi were observed by the monitoring team of rangers tightly guarding the baby gorilla while in Muyambi group, silverback Muyambi was often seen on patrol to decisively protect the family’s new entrant. Adult Female Kabagyenyi joined Nshongi family from a wild group when she was a sub-adult. Muyambi group on the other hand is the newest group that opened to tourism in 2019. It has six family members. The unnamed mother joined the group from the wild.

Other gorilla families with babies this year include Katwe group which had a baby on 16th Jan for Ntabwoba Adult Female, Nkuringo family welcomed a birth 22nd May, Busigye family had a baby on 28th July with unnamed Adult Female, Mukiza family group 17th February from Adult Female Bwebisha, while Oruzoogo family was 25th July by mother Katoto and Kahungye 20th Jan with yet to be named Adult Female.

The Executive Director UWA Sam Mwandha Observed that “the birth of new mountain gorillas is testimony to Uganda’s successful conservation efforts. With enhanced integrity of protected areas, there has been a general increase in wildlife populations in Uganda,” he said.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the mountain gorilla as an endangered species. Uganda wildlife Authority continues to be committed to conservation and protection of gorillas to ensure that the population increases despite the Covid19 interruptions.

 

Ruhija Accommodation Block

Bwindi & Mgahinga Gets 12 Unit Accommodation Block

Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area (BMCA) – Chief Warden Guma Nelson commissioned a 12-unit accommodation block for staff in Ruhija Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) on July, 21, 2020. The block has other additional facilities that include 6 kitchen units, 4 bathrooms and 04 water borne toilets. The new unit brings to 75% of the 45 rangers in the sector housed with decent accommodation.

At the unveiling of the new structure, Chief Warden Guma noted that much as the block is not adequate to house all staff, it demonstrates the intent of management to ensure everyone in the sector has comfortable housing facilities. The block is another milestone in the journey of provision of decent housing, improved staff welfare and bolstering productivity levels. “On your part as staff, you are required to use these facilities properly in a manner that whoever comes after you still finds the rooms habitable. Don’t oversleep and relax. We should protect the gorilla groups here both habituated & wild. Protect the integrity of this park. Control crop raids by elephants,” the Chief Warden counselled staff during the handover ceremony. The accommodation rooms are supplied with renewable energy in tandem with the status of the park as a world heritage site.

The Director Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) Dr.Robert Bitariho thanked UWA management for improving the welfare of staff as well as giving Ruhija a face lift as such initiatives are crucial in making developmental progress in society.   “The structure is a modern facility with water flush toilets & showers and provides a good image for the sector,” he said.
The Chairman LCIII Byomuhangi Clement thanked BMCA management for the good relationship they have between staff and the community. He noted that the harmonious working relations have enabled progress of Ruhija sector which some years back was said to be a very unreachable place.

Ruhija is one of the four sectors in Bwindi Impemetrable national park where tourists can track the famed mountain gorillas in Uganda. The others include Buhoma where the BINP park headquarters are located, Rushaga and Nkuringo.

Mubare Gorilla Baby

Mubare, Uganda’s Oldest Gorilla Family Welcomes New Baby

Yesterday (16th October 2019), Mr. Peter Mbwebwe, the Uganda Wildlife Authority Warden In Bwindi Impenetrable National confirmed the birth of a new mountain gorilla in the Mubare family.

Mubare was the very first mountain gorilla group to be habituated and opened to tourists in 1993 when the first gorilla tracking safari was sold.

“We celebrate a newborn in Mubare group. Mother Businza and baby in good shape,” communicated an elated Mr. Mbwebwe.

The baby comes less than a year from when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated its Red List to lift the mountain gorilla from a critically endangered state to a less delicate state.

The number of mountain gorillas currently in the world, in the high altitudes of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo is estimated at about 1000 individuals, pending the results from the Bwindi gorilla census.

This newborn baby in Uganda, like many others, sheds yet a brighter beam of hope on this species which less than 30 years ago, was headed for extinction.

It is in times like this that we must commend the efforts of conservation organizations in the three countries for preserving this iconic species in the interest of generations to come but also commit to stepping up our efforts in preserving not only the mountain gorilla but all wildlife around the world.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park today has more habituated mountain gorilla groups than there were two decades ago, enabling a steady growth in gorilla tourism.

Although Uganda recently increased the price for its gorilla tracking experience with an extra $100 for both Foreign Non-Residents and Foreign Residents, this East African country continues to dominate consumption rate over its two neighbors while still offering global travelers an excellent opportunity to fulfill their lifelong dreams of viewing these rare animals in the famous activity called the Uganda gorilla safari, which has been dubbed “the greatest wildlife experience on earth” by Rough Guides’ Managing Editor, Keith Drew.

Uganda still offers a much more affordable gorilla trek for foreign tourists compared to its close competitor who doubled her fee in 2017 from US$750 to US$1500 per person tracking the same gorilla species; making it US$800 more expensive than Uganda.

East African Citizens can have an even bigger discount on the gorilla tracking permit; only 250,000 Uganda shillings per person (less than $70).

Gorilla safaris currently attract the most revenue for the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), an organization mandated to manage the country’s 10 national parks and 12 wildlife reserves.

“The money collected from the sale of mountain gorilla permits has helped us conserve these special animals as well as support the local communities living around our gorilla parks,” said Mr. Sam Mwandha, the UWA Executive Director, while speaking at the tourism stakeholders meeting last month.

This goes a long way in the funding of schools, hospitals, and other community projects which uplift the livelihood of the people living around the two parks of Mgahinga and Bwindi.

Uganda gorilla permit

Uganda’s Gorilla Permit Price Will Not Increase till 2020

Many tour operators and tourists have been asking about the possibility of Uganda revising the price of the gorilla permits. However the Uganda Wildlife Authority has confirmed that it it will not increase the price of the gorilla permit. Gorilla tracking permits for Uganda visitors will sell at $600 for the year 2018/2019.

According to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the fee will not be increased despite the overwhelming demand for gorilla tracking permits since Rwanda revised its gorilla permits. This drastic growth follows Rwanda’s announcement in which it doubled the price of its gorilla trekking permits to US$1500. However according to the communication from UWA, Uganda will not raise it the prices from US$600 for the next two years.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) also established that there wont be any more discounted prices apply to gorilla tracking permits for April and May 2018. The standard prices for gorilla permits go as per the following tourist types:

  • Foreign Non-residents = $600
  • Foreign Residents to $500
  • Ugandans – 250000 UGX

Earlier this month, the Rwanda Development Board announced that the price of a permit would rise from US$750 to US$1500 for visitors immediately. Many players have established the move as rebranding Rwanda as a high end tourism destination. This development did not affect the old bookings but will affect all the new bookings.

Watching the endangered mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park is a huge draw to tourists from all over the world. There are only 880 mountain gorillas left in the world. More than half live in the Virunga Mountains, which are shared between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The rest of the population live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda.

Since Rwanda increased its gorilla permits, lots of tourists have seen Uganda as the best destination for gorilla safaris in Africa. Uganda offers exciting gorilla trekking tours in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Within these two national parks, there is a total of 15 habituated gorilla groups that can be visited by tourists. With each group allowing a maximum of 8 tourists per day, Uganda can handle a maximum of 120 tourists per day looking to gorilla watching in these tropical rain forests.

You can book gorilla permits for Uganda through a local tour operator listed on this website or at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices at Kamwokya in Kampala.

Kyaguliro Alpha Silverback Passes On

RUKINA, the former dominant silverback in the Ruhiija sector based Kyaguriro family passed on, on Easter Monday April 6th,2015.

It is estimated that that Rukina was born around 1984. He was well identified as a group member of the Kyagurilo Group in the late 1990’s when he was a young silverback.
It was at this time that he was named ‘Rukina’, meaning ‘playful’ in Rujiga, due to his playful nature as a young adult. He became the dominant silverback of the group in August of 2004, following a 3 year struggle for dominance over the previous dominant silverback (Zeus). Through genetic analysis of fecal samples, we confirmed that he sired his first offspring when he was still a subordinate male in 2002.

Overall, he likely sired 10 offspring, most of whom are currently still infants. During his 11 year tenure as the dominant silverback he attracted four females into his group from neighboring groups, attesting to his ability to be a good leader. He was a very tolerant silverback, spending a lot of time with the adult females as well as his many infants. At the time of his death, the group was at its largest size, containing 21 gorillas, including 8 adult females.

He contributed to the understanding of the ecology and social behavior of Bwindi mountain gorillas due to the focus of research on his group by the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology since 1998. He helped promote the plight of the critically endangered mountain gorillas around the world by being filmed for several documentary films including one by the BBC.
This group is now being led by Rukara the next Silverback. There was a great instability in the group from yesterday till today. However, in the afternoon the trackers noted some bit of calmness though this may take a bit of time before the group fully recovers from this unexpected shock. May his soul rest in peace.

Bwindi Hosts Research Symposium

Researchers across the spectrum converged in Bwindi’s Buhoma park headquarters for a researchers’ symposium. The symposium jointly organized by UWA (BMCA) and ITFC (Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation) had varied number of researchers in numerous discipline discuss research papers and contribute to the addition to the body of knowledge on the eco system of Bwindi.

This is often a time to show case research carried out across the conservation area and also give room for participants to appreciate the researcher’s works and critic it at the same time.
In his opening remarks, the Conservation Area Manager Mr. Pontious Ezuma observed that despite BMCA being very key in the general organization and arrangement of the annual event; it was only the first time Buhoma where the park headquarters are based was hosting it.

He thanked all researchers for committing time and resources to extensively enrich the existing information about Bwindi eco system for management to make informed decisions and actions. He argued them to continue to build this body of knowledge that will definitely culminate into management making good informed decisions issues pertaining the Bwindi base on their work. He therefore encouraged researchers to share this information with management.

The annual event kicked off with guest having a feel of the BMCA research priorities through the eyes of management as presented by the department of Ecological monitoring and shortly after a short presentation from the Great Virunga Trans-boundary Core secretariat’s Teddy Musabe on the its role and the various partnerships around it.

Other varying issues discussed were the chilli growing as a problem animal intervention as well as evaluation of Human Wildlife Conflict prevention strategies. However, particularly of concern was the discussion on Spatial and temporarily patterns of habitat utilization in Bwindi Mountain gorillas.

The discussion brought to life the revelation of gorilla ranging zones visa vie viability of food. The discussion lead by the Phd. Student researcher Nicole Seiler brought to light the old topical discussion of the necessity of habitat manipulation. According to her preliminary finding, the Bwindi habitat food is very much in abundance around the mountainous region of Bwindi where half the world’s mountain gorillas are situated. Their ranging therefore is not hugely affected by the food shortage with in the park rather other factors do contribute.

This research study is being undertaken in Ruhija, Buhoma and parts of Rushaga. Many other wide ranging topics were discussed and debated in a lively manner that engaged the participants in the symposium the entire day.

Gorilla Permit

Gorilla Permit Promotion Ends

The discounted gorilla tracking permits promotion initiated by the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to enable East Africans and Foreign residents to enjoy the same gorilla tracking experience at reduced rates successfully ended on May 31, 2013.

Records indicate that the promotion attracted thousands of visitors to not only track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park but also enjoy other activities like the Golden monkeys, Batwa Cultural Experience Trail, Nature walks, mountain hiking and other attractions offered by the protected areas.
The management of UWA said the objective of the promotion was to offer an opportunity to the visitors who miss out on the activities during the peak season. Management would like to thank all the stake holders and partners including the airlines, tour operators and hoteliers who cooperated to make the promotion a success.

GORILLA PERMIT PROMOTION ENDS

The discounted gorilla tracking permits promotion initiated by the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to enable East Africans and Foreign residents to enjoy the same gorilla tracking experience at reduced rates successfully ended on May 31, 2013.

Records indicate that the promotion attracted thousands of visitors to not only track the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park but also enjoy other activities like the Golden monkeys, Batwa Cultural Experience Trail, Nature walks, mountain hiking and other attractions offered by the protected areas.

The management of UWA said the objective of the promotion was to offer an opportunity to the visitors who miss out on the activities during the peak season. Management would like to thank all the stake holders and partners  including the airlines, tour operators and  hoteliers who cooperated  to make the promotion a success.