BWINDI GORILLAS CROSS THE 400 MARK
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has yesterday released the data of the last count carried out earlier in the year, confirming a positive trend in gorilla numbers as a result of increased protection and years of focused conservation efforts. The latest number available now stands at an estimated 400 mountain gorillas of an overall population in the Virunga mountain range of about 880.
The most recent game count is based on a dual count, where over the space of weeks teams went twice across the Bwindi Forest with the proverbial toothcomb, to ensure that their findings would hold water and stand the scientific test of time.
Bwindi is home to 36 distinct groups of gorilla families, led by a silverback, but at least 16 solitary males have also been identified. Out of this number, 10 groups have been habituated for human contact, out of which 8 can be tracked by tourists while 2 have been set aside for research purposes to study their behavior and learn more about their social interaction. The International Gorilla Conservation Programme technical advisor M. Gray was quoted in a media release from UWA as having said: ‘This method gives us the clearest picture of the status of mountain gorillas in Bwindi that we have yet had. Even with evolving census methods, the results indicate that this population has indeed increased over the last five years, and that is very encouraging for this critically endangered species.’
This sentiment was further supported by the interim director of the IGCP Dr. Augustine Basabose who was in the same release quoted: ‘In fact, the mountain gorilla is the only great ape whose population is increasing despite continuous pressure on its habitat. This positive trend is due to the strong collaboration among the three countries where mountain gorillas live and the collective efforts on the ground by park staff, surrounding communities and local government, and non-governmental organizations’.
The information was officially released during a press conference held by Uganda’s Minister for Tourism Maria Mutagamba, who at the same time also answered questions on Uganda’s successful participation at the just concluded World Travel Market in London, where The Pearl of Africa enjoyed intense interest for its adventure tourism attractions from around the world. Visit www.ugandawildlife.org for more information or else click on to www.visituganda.com for news from the Uganda Tourist Board. Watch this space.