MORE HABITUATED GORILLA GROUPS TO ‘COME ON LINE’ BY MID 2011
Information was received from a regular source at the Uganda Wildlife Authority that the habituation of two more groups of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is in its final stages. Hence, later this year a further 16 permits for gorilla tracking will be available on the market, satisfying at least some of the seemingly ever growing demand by tourists to see the prized animals. The source pointed out that as early as mid year the two group could be gradually opened up for tracking, a deliberately long and careful process to make sure no harm comes to the animals and their natural behaviour is not being disturbed or in a worst case scenario altered altogether.
The introduction of the two new groups, to be named ‘Kahugye’ and ‘Oruzogo’, will bring the total number of habituated gorilla families and clans to 10, although one is set aside for pure research and monitoring purposes and not available for visits by ordinary tourists.
Presently the cost of a day’s tracking of gorillas is at US Dollars 500 per person, plus overnight, transport and related expenses that is, and charged uniformly also in Rwanda and Congo DR following extensive cooperation agreements between the wildlife managers in the three countries.
This figure however is understood to be under review, having been in place for two years now, but none would comment on the progress of internal and external consultations over a future rise. Uganda’s earnings from tourism have grown inspite of the difficult economic environment in recent years and gorilla tracking is the biggest single tourism activity in terms of revenues and global recognition. The Uganda Tourist Board is however working hard to portray the country also as a general adventure destination, considering the attractions along the upper Nile valley below Jinja, where white water rafting, quadding, horseback riding, bungee jumping, boating and cross country cycling are just a few of the activities waiting for tourist visitors. Uganda also has a dozen other primates to see, like chimpanzees, the golden monkey, colobus species and is blessed too with over 1.000 species of birds, over 600 of which are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park alone.