Is Gorilla Tracking in Uganda Safe? : Mountain gorillas are identical to humans, powerful and intelligent herbivores sharing more than 95% DNA with the humans, these endangered species are fascinating to encounter in their natural habitat.
Mountain gorillas are huge creatures and normally portrayed as fierce, however they rarely display their enormous strength and only ever become aggressive with other silverbacks.
Silverbacks are huge male gorillas, they are normally the dominant leaders of the gorilla families. The strength of Mountain gorillas most especially the silverback is portrayed in several movies such as fictional movie “’King Kong – The original film from the 1930s and the early 21st Century remake showed the gentle side of the gorillas as well as their aggression when they feel threatened.
Mountain gorillas are social animals living in groups/troops which comprises of males, females, silverbacks and juveniles. When the male grows past childhood, they leave the troop to start their own troop with some of the females often going with him. This happens at around the age of 15 with life expectancy anything between 40 and 50 years. The age of 15 the male gorillas are known as blackbacks with their hair starting to turn silver with age.
Females normally give birth at the age of 10 and tend for their young for 4-6 years so, the female can have four youngsters in their lifetime?
While in the presence of mountain gorillas, it is important not to make them feel threatened or need to protect their young from strangers. As you venture into the gorilla territory there is need to protects both the gorillas as well as the visitors (tourists), this leads to the question “is gorilla tracking safe in Uganda”.
The population of the endangered mountain gorillas in the world in the wild are approximately 1004 individuals, these gorillas are found in 4 national parks that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR. Congo.
Mountain gorillas have a routine rising from the leafy beds early each day and spend upto five hours a day eating, they take naps at midday and are generally a sleep for the night after sunset by which all tourists are gone.
Gorillas are very susceptible to several human diseases such as old and flue, so for the safety of the gorillas any ill visitors is not allowed to take part in gorilla trekking. On a daily, physicians monitor the gorillas as a result they identify the ill gorilla from another. The gorillas are easy to identify thanks to their unique nose prints as well as finger prints.
Uganda is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas living in two Uganda National Parks that is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These two parks are located in South Western Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the smallest park in Uganda at a size of 34 square kilometers, the park is dominated by dense forest in the Virunga Mountains with the altitude varying from 2,200 meters to over 4,000 meters. Regardless of the altitude, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the easiest of the two parks for visitors to see mountain gorillas.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park spans 320 square kilometers and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is home to over half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. The general altitude of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is lower than Mgahinga Gorilla National Park ranging from 1,100 meters to 2,600 meters.
Gorilla families open for gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi and Mgahinga are habituated meaning they are used to human presence, gorilla habituation experience takes a couple of years about 2-3 years of being monitored by rangers, researchers and scientists.
The result is that tourist who follow simple instructions from their guides are perfectly safe, as a precaution, rangers and tourism police are armed but the chances of any need to use weapons against families are remote indeed.
Wildlife tourism is the biggest income earner in Africa but on the plains of East Africa, tourists are confined to vehicles. In order to see gorillas in Uganda, their remote habitat can only be reached on foot and hence groups must trek in search of their close relatives.
While on gorilla trekking, guides will always know the general area to find a troop but gorillas are nomadic always traveling most days in search of food.
On gorilla trekking, security is important because of the value of human life and the revenue that gorilla trekking brings to the Ugandan economy. Security is a role of both wildlife rangers and tourism police whose role includes guarding against more than gorillas with incursions of rebel groups into Uganda from over the border, something that has occurred in the past, yet it is now under control.
Security is in place throughout any holiday involving gorilla trekking and that includes overnight accommodation.
Mountain gorillas lives in dense forest, sometimes on steep slopes so those wishing to go gorilla trekking must have a certain level of fitness although tourists will move at a comfortable rate.
This is not something that independent travelers can do by themselves because the gorilla habitat is strictly under tourism authority control. Everyone needs to be suitably attired on comfortable footwear, light rain coasts in their carry bags as well as water and headgear.
The number of tourists allowed to visit each gorilla troop is limited to only 8 people.
In every contact with a wild animal, there is an element that kicks, although in gorilla trekking. All mountain gorillas encountered have been habituated, however remember that there are still wild with moods. When they are agitated, they make few sounds including grunts which is a sign that a silverback is unhappy with the situation. Also, they beat their chests which is also an impressive sight to see worth filming.
When gorilla trekking it is important to remember, are the simple rules that guides explain before the party sets out and follow those rules. It is possible to get fairly close to the troop, even to a female with a youngster but it is important to stop when advised and keep quite at all times so none of the troop is startled.
The rules are common sense and if followed, your gorilla trekking experience will be perfectly safe and an experience that all tourists will remember for the rest of their lives.
Lastly, the above article addresses the question “Is Gorilla Tracking in Uganda Safe?”