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Gorilla Conservation in Uganda

Every time that passes by, mountain gorilla get more endangered. There is a lot of global warming and increase in population where with time people will greatly encroach on the habitats for these wild animals leaving them with little space to stay. Currently, the mountain gorillas live in the misty Virunga volcanoes and in Bwindi impenetrable national park with their population estimated to be at about 1060 only.

The major predators of the mountain gorillas are humans who in the 1990’s greatly poached these animals thus resulting to a great decline in their population. The mountain gorilla population was even lower than 720 before the 2018 Gorilla Census but it has just increased all thanks to the conservation efforts from the major governments and the wildlife organizations in the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo).

The mountain gorillas are now prime tourist attractions in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. Every year the number of tourists heading in the misty mountains of Bwindi impenetrable forest and the Virunga Volcanoes increases. The tourists going for mountain gorilla trekking first gather at the different national park headquarters where they are briefed and told about the characters of the mountain gorillas. They are also briefed about the major characters of the mountain gorilla family they will be trekking. After the briefing, they directly head to the forested mountains as they hike looking for the gorillas.

The hike varies and usually ranges between 1 to 8 hours however once you get to the mountain gorillas, you are given just an hour to spend with these magical animals. The hour may seem short especially to people who travel overseas to see the mountain gorillas in their natural environments but its very rewarding as you the mountain gorillas relax in their families most times even while not bothered about your presence.

When the hour elapses, you are informed by your guide who then directs you back to the national park headquarters for your certificates of participation and there after go for a community tour or to your lodge/hotel. It’s hard to explain with words how amazing and awesome viewing the mountain gorillas in the mist can be. It’s very unforgettable and in fact a wildlife safari activity that should be on the must do lists of the adventurous tourists.

All the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and DRC) are now politically stable and therefore security must not be a hindrance to any one for to track mountain gorillas. For easy movements through the forests, it’s best to go for the safaris during the dry season when there are limited chances of rainfall. Trekking in the wet season in also very possible and in fact in Uganda the mountain gorilla permits are usually reduced from US$800 to $350. Even though it rains, it doesn’t stop people from going to the forests and be part of the incredible mountain gorilla experiences. Mountain gorilla permits are sold at US$1500 in Rwanda’s Volcanoes Park and US$400 for the DR Congo. In Uganda gorilla permits are sold at US$800.

Tourists who are interested in a double mountain gorilla trekking can easily do that by trekking in two countries (Uganda and Rwanda or DR Congo). All the three countries have habituated mountain gorillas. The ones in Uganda can be trekked in Bwindi impenetrable forest that has three sectors and half of the mountain gorilla population or in Mgahinga gorilla national park with one habituated mountain gorilla family. In DR Congo, trekking can be done in Virunga national park, which has 5 habituated mountain gorilla families while in Rwanda it can be carried out in volcanoes national park, which has 10 habituated gorilla families.

Visiting one of the three countries to view mountain gorillas in the mist can never be a regrettable idea.

How Many Gorillas Are in Uganda?

Mountain gorillas are very special and rare apes to see all around the world. They are one of the five that make apes group, in this group it is believed that humans are the most intelligent though gorillas are seen adjusting so easily to tolls meaning if given a chance they may be much more than intelligent.

In Uganda over many thick forested square miles Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park are the homes to half of the world’s remaining gorillas. They are commonly known as the mountain gorillas though they stay in deep down forests.

Rwanda has got gorillas in the volcanoes national park, these park borders with the Mgahinga gorilla national lark of Uganda. The gorillas are freely allowed to cross over to the other side as they choose too.

The Virunga national park in DRC also borders Uganda on one side and Rwanda, this is because of the virunga ranges _these are a series of mountains that come from Rwanda Uganda and Congo. These are very much forested and they make good homes for Gorillas.

Based on the 2008 census the total population of the mountain gorillas in the three countries where 1069. The countries of Rwanda of Congo have got a total population of about 490 and the Bwindi impenetrable national park has got 400 individual gorillas.

Recently Uganda had a baby boom around 60 babies were born. If all goes well we estimate the total population of mountain gorillas to be above 1500 by the end of year 2022.

How many gorilla families in Uganda can be tracked

When booking a gorilla trekking permit in Uganda, the UWA booking office asks that we specify which park sector from the five available. The chosen sector will determine which gorilla group you get to meet on your gorilla safari in Uganda.

Nkuringo sector

Nkuringo sector has four gorilla groups, with 32 permits available

  1. Nkuringo family—its leader Rafiki was killed in 2020, has 12 members led by Rwamutwe Black back. The hike for tracking here is not quite easy but the best
  2. Christmas family—split from Nkuringo, has 6 members led by Christmas Silverback, Rafiki’s brother.
  3. Bushao family—12 members led by Bahati Silverback.

Ruhijja sector

Ruhija Sector has 4 Groups, with 32 permits available

  1. Bitukura family—habituated in 2008, 13 family members with Ndahura the dominant silverback.
  2. Oruzogo—habituated in 2011, 22 members, 2 silverbacks with Tibirikwata as the dominant silverback
  3. Mukiza (Kyaguliro B)—15 members with Mukiza as dominant silverback
  4. Kyaguriro—often observed for research purposes, 9 members led by Rukina

Buhoma sector

Buhoma sector has 4 Gorilla Groups, with 32 permits are available

  1. Mubare family—named after the Mubare hills, was the first group habituated in 1991, has 18 members and is led by Ruhondeza Silverback.
  2. Habinyanja family—at one time had over 30 members but split, now 18 member led by Makara Silverback.
  3. Rushegura family—split from the larger group Habinyanja group, now has 20 members led by Mwirima silverback.
  4. Katwe—has 9 members with Katwe silverback leading the group

Rushaga Sector

Rushaga has 8 gorilla groups, with 64 permits per day. However the 8 group has got no name yet.

  1. Nshongi family—originally the largest group to be habituated, now has 25 members with 2 silverbacks
  2. Mishaya family—split from Nshongi group, 10 members led by Mishaya Silverback.
  3. Busingye family—split from Kahungye, 10 members let by Busingye Silverback.
  4. Bweeza family—has 9 members and was habituated in 2011.
  5. Kahungye—is the largest group with 18 members, habituated in 2011.
  6. Bikyingi—12 members in the group and is currently being habituated.
  7. Muchunguzi—has 8 members.