Uganda counts gorillas amid tourism-boosting 'baby boom'

2018-04-25 19:17
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Uganda has begun counting its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas amid confidence their numbers are steadily rising, boosting prospects for its tourism industry that relies heavily on the primates.

The last census in 2011 showed the East African country had 480 mountain gorillas in two protected areas, or about half of the world's surviving population. The others are in neighbouring Rwanda and Congo's forested mountain areas.

Since March a census team has been traversing Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, collecting the gorillas' dung and examining their nests for hair samples and other clues. Their data, which will be subjected to genetic analysis in Europe, is far more reliable than a head count, wildlife officials said.

The census ends in mid-May and results are not expected for several months.

"We have some hope that we shall register a few more individuals because we feel that we have been doing some things right," said Simplicious Gessa, a spokesperson for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. "We have had a huge baby boom over the years in our habituated groups."

The habituated gorillas - those comfortable in the presence of humans - in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and nearby Mgahinga National Park have become Uganda's main tourist attraction. A gorilla tracking permit costs a tourist up to $600, and last year thousands paid for the opportunity to see the primates in their natural habitat.

The region's mountain gorilla population dropped sharply in the past century because of poaching, illness and human encroachment. Mountain gorillas have been listed as critically endangered since 1996, although their numbers are now growing.

In the past few years some of Uganda's gorillas died of natural causes, with some falling from trees and others killed in battles between males fighting for territory or dominance.

"We need to regularly take stock of them and knowing how many they are, that gives us an opportunity to come up with practical action plans for improved conservation of this mountain gorilla," said John Justice Tibesigwa, a senior warden in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

In Rwanda, where tourism is the top foreign exchange earner, the country has prioritised the protection of its gorillas in a public way, even launching a naming ceremony for the baby primates.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook


Read more on:    uganda  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.