Uganda Welcomes Three Infant Mountain Gorillas

Uganda Welcomes Three Infant Mountain Gorillas

26/10/2016 0 Di puntoacapo

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Uganda's newest mountain gorilla, named "Masiko" or "Hope", was born in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in late September. Uganda is home to approximately 480 mountain gorillas, more than half the world's remaining population. (PRNewsFoto/Uganda Tourism Board)

Uganda’s newest moun­tain goril­la, named “Masiko” or “Hope”, was born in Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble Nation­al Park in late Sep­tem­ber. Ugan­da is home to approx­i­mate­ly 480 moun­tain goril­las, more than half the world’s remain­ing pop­u­la­tion. (PRNewsFoto/Uganda Tourism Board)

Uganda Welcomes Three Infant Mountain Gorillas

Critically endangered population continues growth due to proactive conservation efforts

Approx­i­mate­ly 480 moun­tain goril­las, more than half the world’s pop­u­la­tion of this crit­i­cal­ly endan­gered crea­ture (a sub­species of the east­ern goril­la), reside in the dense forests of south­west­ern Ugan­da, and that num­ber has grown with the recent birth of three infants since mid-August. Adven­tur­ous vis­i­tors track­ing the habit­u­at­ed Habinyan­ja goril­la fam­i­ly in Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble Nation­al Park spot­ted the newest arrival in late Sep­tem­ber.

Ugan­da has 12 habit­u­at­ed moun­tain goril­la fam­i­lies (11 in Bwin­di and one in Mgahin­ga Goril­la Nation­al Park), and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to track them in their nat­ur­al habi­tat tops the buck­et lists of wildlife enthu­si­asts and intre­pid trav­el­ers world­wide. Researchers began the Habinyan­ja fam­i­ly’s two-year habit­u­a­tion process in 1997, spend­ing time with them dai­ly until they became at ease around humans. The oth­er two infants belong to the Busha­ho and Bikyi­ri­gi fam­i­lies, which are cur­rent­ly under­go­ing habit­u­a­tion and can­not yet be tracked by vis­i­tors.

Ugan­da Wildlife Author­i­ty: Con­ser­va­tion in Action
The num­ber of moun­tain goril­las in Bwin­di has pro­gres­sive­ly increased over the last 20 years accord­ing to four cen­sus­es tak­en to mon­i­tor pop­u­la­tion size. Despite this growth, moun­tain goril­las remain threat­ened due to issues such as poach­ing, habi­tat loss, and encroach­ment by humans. Gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions like the Ugan­da Wildlife Author­i­ty (UWA) proac­tive­ly com­bat these prob­lems to pro­tect the goril­las and their for­est home. The UWA, found­ed in 1996, man­ages and patrols Uganda’s 10 nation­al parks and is ded­i­cat­ed to the con­ser­va­tion, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of the coun­try’s wildlife pro­tect­ed areas.

From Vet­eri­nar­i­ans to Tourists: Keep­ing Goril­las Healthy
Dis­ease and res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tions are also threats to Uganda’s moun­tain goril­la pop­u­la­tion. Goril­las are sus­cep­ti­ble to many of the same ill­ness­es as humans, and keep­ing them healthy is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant. Vis­i­tors to Bwin­di and Mgahin­ga are required to stay 21 feet from the goril­las at all times to pre­vent the pass­ing of germs and are advised not to track goril­las if they are expe­ri­enc­ing a cold or oth­er signs of infec­tion. UWA rangers mon­i­tor the health and well-being of goril­la fam­i­lies on an ongo­ing basis. When a goril­la is in need of care, the UWA calls upon Goril­la Doc­tors, a part­ner­ship of the UC Davis Moun­tain Goril­la Vet­eri­nary Project and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Cen­ter with staff on the ground in Ugan­da.

Track­ing Per­mits: Fund­ing Future Gen­er­a­tions
Per­mits priced at US$600 per per­son in high sea­son are required to track the habit­u­at­ed goril­las. A por­tion of the track­ing per­mit fee is used to fund the salaries of park rangers and anti-poach­ing mea­sures, and 20% of the fee goes to the local com­mu­ni­ties sur­round­ing Bwin­di and Mgahin­ga, which often equals upwards of US$1 mil­lioneach year to sup­port com­mu­ni­ty growth and edu­ca­tion.

Com­mu­ni­ty Edu­ca­tion: A Grass­roots Approach
When mem­bers of Uganda’s com­mu­ni­ties learn more about the goril­las and begin to reap the eco­nom­ic and employ­ment ben­e­fits cre­at­ed by goril­la track­ing, their rela­tion­ship with the moun­tain goril­las typ­i­cal­ly begins to shift. They become less like­ly to engage in poach­ing, and human-wildlife con­flicts are reduced. Teenagers and young adults in the com­mu­ni­ties have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve as goril­la track­ing assis­tants, work­ing to help vis­i­tors nav­i­gate the trails and paths required to reach the goril­las. Through this process, they devel­op a new under­stand­ing of the goril­las, which they then share with their friends and fam­i­ly. In some cas­es, poach­ers from these local com­mu­ni­ties have even become park rangers ded­i­cat­ed to main­tain­ing the goril­las’ safe­ty.

Uganda’s wildlife and nation­al parks are our most pre­cious nat­ur­al resources, and we must all do our part to sup­port their con­ser­va­tion,” said UWA Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Andrew Seguya. “I am proud that the UWA plays such an impor­tant role in ensur­ing that Uganda’s moun­tain goril­las, giraffes, rhi­nos, and oth­er ani­mals will con­tin­ue to thrive for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Edi­tor Note: High-res images can be down­loaded here

ABOUT UGANDA
Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Ugan­da is locat­ed in East Africa and offers some of the con­ti­nen­t’s most diverse wildlife view­ing, dra­mat­ic land­scapes, and immer­sive cul­tur­al expe­ri­ences. Ugan­da is home to more than half the world’s pop­u­la­tion of endan­gered moun­tain goril­las, and trekking to observe these gen­tle giants in Bwin­di Impen­e­tra­ble For­est is one of the world’s top “buck­et list” trav­el activ­i­ties. Safari oppor­tu­ni­ties abound in savan­na, for­est, and wet­land set­tings through­out 10 nation­al parks, where vis­i­tors can come face to face with “The Big Five” – lion, leop­ard, rhi­no, ele­phant, and buf­fa­lo – as well as giraffe, zebra, chim­panzee, hip­popota­mus, croc­o­dile, and more than half of all bird species found in Africa. Among Uganda’s extra­or­di­nary nat­ur­al attrac­tions are the snow-capped Rwen­zori Moun­tains; expan­sive Lake Vic­to­ria, which forms the source of the Nile Riv­er; and Murchi­son Falls Nation­al Park. Air ser­vice to Uganda’s Entebbe Inter­na­tion­al Air­port is avail­able on car­ri­ers includ­ing Delta Air Lines/KLM Roy­al Dutch Air­lines, Brus­sels Air­lines, Qatar Air­ways, Emi­rates Air­lines, Turk­ish Air­lines, Eti­had Air­ways, South African Air­ways, EgyptAir and Ethiopi­an Air­lines. For more infor­ma­tion, please vis­it www.visituganda.com.