Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas.
Gorilla Conservation in Uganda
In Uganda, continuing socio-ecological studies facilitate comparisons between mountain gorillas and other species/subspecies. While fruit-eating clearly influences gorilla society, it is now clear that group structure is quite similar across Africa, with one consistent exception that is; the number of silverbacks per group. In mountain gorillas of both the Virungas and Bwindi, multi-male groups are relatively common (30-50% of groups), whereas in Grauer’s and western gorillas, they are rare with no clear answer.
The Belgians established a preservations program for the Mountain Gorillas and so did the British in Uganda. For a long period of time, no one was even allowed to take visitors to view the Mountain Gorillas. In Kisoro, Walter Baumgartel was given permission to set up visits for travelers to his Travellers Rest Inn, a place where you can still stay today in Uganda. Baumgartel wrote the Book “Up among the Mountain Gorillas” which is about his time in Uganda and encounters with the giant apes of southern Uganda. It is a lovely book about man, an inn, the beauty of the Ugandan country side, and mostly about the Mountain Gorillas. Dian Fossey used to stay there on a regular basis and so did George Schaller to name just two.
Most Gorillas that you might have encountered in a zoo are from the lowlands of western Africa, the mountain gorillas are a subspecies called Gorilla beringei beringei. The only place you can find them is in the wild in the Virunga areas in the Volcano Park of Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Uganda at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The parks are within 48 kilometers of each other. In Uganda and Rwanda the parks are easily accessed, in the Democratic Republic of Congo there is the problem of rebel activities and potential life-threatening danger to visitor due to the rebel activity.
In Uganda today, the Gorillas are actually increasing in numbers due to the protection they are receiving from the Ugandan government which involved the communities surrounding the parks and gives them a portion of the 500 dollar Gorilla tracking (trekking) fees collected from foreign visitors to Bwindi and Mgahinga.
No primate exceeds in size and magnificence to these animals. They are bigger than chimpanzees, orangutans, and gibbons; therefore, they have the title of “the largest primates in the world”. They also are very close relatives to humans, as millions of years ago they shared, along with chimpanzees, a common ancestor, and that is why they have some similar characteristics to humans, such as a relatively large brain compared to its body and opposable thumbs.
- Where to See Gorillas in Uganda
- Plan a Gorilla Trek in Uganda
- How to Book Uganda Gorilla Permits