Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla

Gorilla tracking is the major tourism activity in Uganda. The activity is done in only two National Parks, and these are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The country is blessed with nine habituated Gorilla families which include; Kyaguriro, Rushegura, Mishaya, Mubare, Habinyanja, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Bitukura, and Nyakagezi. There are more families under habituation. Uganda is home to over a half of the total population of these gentle giants in the whole world

To be certain of going gorilla tracking, it is a must you buy a permit which is issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) at USD 600 only. Only eight people are allowed to visit a group per day, this minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

It is recommended to book permits as early as possible. We advise you book at least 3 months in advance to ensure tracking on the desired dates and the tracking of simpler families

UWA uses the funds generated from the sale of these permits for the management of the National Parks. A percentage of the funds raised from park entrance fees are also donated to local communities living adjacent to the parks to contribute to their development and improve natural resource management in the region. By following these rules and through the purchase of the permit, YOU too are contributing to the conservation of the mountain gorilla.

RULES OF GORILLA TRACKING

1. No one with a communicable disease (e.g. flu, diarrhea is allowed to enter the park).

2. Do not stand over them, stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don’t surround them.

3. Do not use flashes while photographing

4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.

5. Turn away from the gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose in the process.

6. Bury all human faeces a minimum 30cm deep and ensure that the hole is properly covered.

7. Do not litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed off properly.

8. No person under 15 years is allowed to track gorillas.

9. Do not make loud noise or move suddenly. Ask in a whisper if u must.

10. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour

11. Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park. Use your hankie of other garment.

12. A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should be observed at all times from the gorillas. The far back you are, the more relaxed the group will be

13. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.

14. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.

15. Do not look at them straight in the face rather give a sideways glance.

16. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 metres away from the gorillas.

Adult males range, 1.65–1.75 metres in height (5 ft 5 in–5 ft 9 in), and 140–200 kg (310–440 lb) in weight. Adult females are often half the size of a silverback, averaging about 1.4 metres (4 ft 7 in) tall and 100 kg (220 lb).
Gorillas have a facial structure which is described as Mandibular Prognathism.
Almost all gorillas share the same blood type (B) and, like humans, have individual finger prints.

NOTE:

*A visitor shall be declared unfit for tracking if their ill by a warden-in-charge in the park, 50% of the tracking fee will be refunded. Illness is determined at the discretion of the warden-in-charge. The cancellation policy will apply to visitors who fall sick prior to their travel to the park.
*Permits are non-refundable but visitors who track the whole day and fail to see them for whatever reason will be refunded 50% of the tracking fee.
*The gorilla permit is not a guarantee that the gorilla will be clearly viewed.
* Chances of seeing the Gorilla are 98%.
*The minimum age limit for visiting the gorillas is 16 years.

GORILLA TRACKING REQUIREMENTS

  1. Ankle level boots are ok but make sure it is something handy.
  2. Gloves
  3. A warm cardigan
  4. Thick trousers and a long sleeved top.
  5. Rain Coat
  6. Video- filming is allowed in the parks though not outside the park
  7. Water proof container for cameras
  8. A pair of binoculars if possible.
  9. If you prefer wearing a hat, a baseball cap is recommend

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and the world's most endangered apes with a population of less than 800 individuals world over- none in zoos. They are found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

They share 97% DNA with human beings! They are our closest living cousins after the Chimpanzee, They have up to 25 vocalization for communication

Mountain Gorillas are shy, social and very active during day. They live in families of 8-25 members with one leading male (The Silver Back).

Gorillas have a lifespan of 50 years in the wild. They reproduce at a very slow speed with a gestation period of approximately 8.5 months and an interval of four years to the next birth.

Diet: Mainly herbivores eating fruits, herbs, leaves, stems, roots and shoots. Sometimes ingest small insects like ants and termites.

Mountain Gorilla Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.

Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.

In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.

Grauer's Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Family: Eurylaimidae, Genus: Pseudocalyptomena, Species: Pseudocalyptomena graueri

The Grauer's Broadbill or African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is an actual broadbill, one of only a few African representatives of a primarily Asian family. It is bright green with a blue throat and vent and a small bill, quite unlike those of the other broadbills. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests where it forages in canopies.

It is one of the African Big Five bird species, highly sought after by ornithologists but very elusive.

The species is both globally endangered and endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)

Kingdom: Amimalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Meropidae, Genus: Merops

The Blue-breasted Bee-eater is endemic to Africa and just as the name suggests, predominantly eats flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. While pursue any type of flying insect, honey bees predominate in their diet. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) comprise from 20% to 96% of all insects eaten, with honey bees comprising approximately one-third of the Hymenoptera.

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