The Mountain Gorillas of Uganda are the most threatened of all gorilla species. The total current population of the mountain gorillas is estimated to be not more that 900 individuals. Uganda hosts almost half of the world population of the mountain gorillas. The remnant population lives in the Virunga Mountains of Northern Rwanda and the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorillas are continuously conserved and preserved in order to maintain their increasing numbers within their habitats. One of the measures that has helped in promoting conservation is gorilla tourism, a sustainable form of tourism where a set number of visitors are allowed to visit the gorilas. The activities of gorilla tourism are well regulated and the receipts generated from what seems like an expensive activity has been used in conserving the great apes. Gorilla tourism is also the backbone of Uganda and the mountain gorillas are the main attraction to the Pearl of Africa.
Current Status of Mountain Gorillas
There are about 900 mountain gorillas living in the wild of Africa (2012 Gorilla Census). These gorillas are found in three countries in Africa; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Within Uganda, mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. There are over 400 mountain gorillas living with in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the best place to go gorilla trekking in Africa.
Over the past 10 years, a significant number of travelers have visited Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and tracked the mountain gorillas. This has improved tourism development as well as better management and conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas. Conservation in Bwindi has attracted many stakeholders that have come on board. These include the local people, the government of Uganda, Non Governmental Organisations as well as responsible tourists.
The conservation of the mountain gorillas within Ugandan national parks is mainly done by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government agency which is responsible for taking care of all Uganda’s flora and fauna including the gorillas. The conservation of mountain gorillas has been done through
- controlling of poaching and hunting with in the national parks,
- regulation of tourism activities with the parks etc.
The organization has also worked with the local communities in putting in place laws and regulations which control sustainable use of natural resources and as well encouraged the participation of the local people in the conservation and development of tourism in Uganda.
These measures have greatly helped in improving both conservation and tourism development and Uganda has realized an ever increasing the number of tourists!
Promoting Responsible Tourism in Africa
Mountain gorillas are considered to be endangered species and this is the main reason why they should be treated well in order to control the reduction in their numbers. These have got fragile bodies since they can easily contact human diseases especially when the humans get into direct contact with them, therefore the tourists are advised to stay far from them which tracking within their habitats. There are strict guidelines that are followed in conducting gorilla tours within both Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National Park.
- Tourists with communicable diseases such as flue are not allowed to track the gorillas
- Tourists are also advised not to litter within the national parks where these unique primates are found. This aims at controlling diseases to the gorillas that are related with human droppings.
- Strictly there are only 8 tourists allowed to track a gorilla family. Watching the gorillas is also stricted to only 1 hour.
- This has helped in maintaining their increasing numbers with in Uganda hence increasing gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda.
Gorilla Tourism is Benefiting Other National Park
Uganda has also got many other wildlife species. Apart from the mountain gorillas, there is interesting wildlife in other national parks like Kibale national park, Murchison falls national park, lake Mburo national park, Rwenzori national park and other game reserves. Some of the most sought after animals found in these national parks include; the elephants, lions, crocodiles, monkeys, chimpanzees, antelopes, buffalos, Rhinos, zebras and the giraffes. Most tourists interested in gorilla tracking combine their visit with safaris in other Ugandan national parks.