Gorilla Tourism in Uganda

Historically, Gorillas are said to be descendants of the monkey about 34million years ago. It is about 9million years ago that primates that were to evolve into gorillas split from the ancestors of the human and chimps. You might be having a Gorilla relative because, the share 98% DNA with humans. However, there was a debate on the classification of the mountain gorillas.  The species was first named as Troglodytes in 1847, but renamed to Gorilla in 1852. In 1967, Colin Groves, a biological anthropologist at the Australian University in Canberra proposed that all Gorillas should be regarded as one species Gorilla and three sub species which include Gorilla gorillagraueri (low land gorillas in the west of Virunga), Gorilla gorillagorilla(western lowland gorilla) and Gorilla gorillaberingei(mountain gorillas) After reviewing the species, in 2003, the World Conservation Union divided the species into two; Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei.

However, conservation of the species in the early days seemed to be difficult, because most people would fight or beat them for invading their gardens and communities; Others poached the species. Uganda Mountain Gorilla tourism’s foundation was first laid in 1993, when the Uganda Wildlife Authority habituated the first ever Mountain Gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Kanungu district, South western region. The reason for the habituation was to conserve the endangered species; learn about its social behavior and feeding ecology.With time, more groups were habituated, currently totaling to 12 in the park. The groups include includeKahungye, Mubare, Rushegura, Busingye, Nkuringo, Habinyanja, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Mishaya, Nshongi, Bweza and Kyaguriro.Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park is currently home to about 400 Mountain Gorilla individuals, which is literally almost half of the World’s total Mountain Gorilla population of about 880 individuals. One more group was habituated, Nyakagezi Gorilla group; in the neighboring park, Mgahinga National Park. Mgahinga is literally home to about 80 Mountain Gorillas and is located in Kisoro District, South western Region, along the Borders with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Gorilla tourism is the main attraction in Uganda, attracting about 20 to 22 thousand visitors who contribute about 20billion Uganda shillings annually to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Gorilla tourism also brought about employment in the Country, with a number of Tour companies evolving, who ensure occurrence of memorable Gorilla Safaris to Uganda; and other Uganda Safari destinations. The communities that surround the Gorilla destinations in Uganda have also highly benefited in Gorilla Tourism, earning by selling their culture, historical sites and daily activities. Some of the communities which have benefited include the Batwa Pygmies, a famous tribe belonging to the Bantu ethnic group. The Batwa are belived to have migrated from Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo and settled in the South Western and western regions of Uganda. Also known as ‘Keepers of the Forest’, the tribe primarily livesin forests.The community offers the Batwa trail experience, where visitors get to learn about the culture and day to day activities of the tribe.

 

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