Tourists could now find it easier to track gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park after the ministry of Tourism and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), yesterday announced an increase in the primate’s population. According to UWA, the latest census found that there was an increment by 60 gorillas to 340 counted in the last one in 2006.
This brought the gorilla population in Bwindi to 400 in addition to the 80 primates found on the Ugandan side of Virunga Massif. The latest findings ranked Uganda highest in the world as far as gorilla population is concerned.
“The Ministry … are pleased to announce a considerable increase in the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi following a three-week census that was carried out in the park in September and October 2011,” Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba said at the government Media Centre yesterday.
She said the population of mountain gorillas in Uganda had been confirmed to stand at a minimum of 400. The census was carried out by UWA with assistance from the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), the Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) in Democratic Republic of Congo and RDB from Rwanda.
Currently, Ms Mutagambwa said, there were 36 gorilla families at Bwindi and 16 solitary males. Of the 36 families, 10 are habituated for tourism and research. Following the two censuses carried out in the Virunga Massif and in Bwindi in 2011, it was confirmed that the world’s population of mountain gorillas now stands at 880.
The 2010 results showed that there were 480 mountain gorillas at Virunga Massif, which comprises the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda), Volcanoes National Park in (Rwanda) and Virunga National Park (DRC). The 400 gorillas which were confirmed are entirely in Uganda and this means that Uganda is the host to more than a half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas.
UWA Executive Director Andrew Sseguuya said: “The increase in the population of mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a testimony to the sound natural resources management policies that are being implemented in the protected areas.”
Dr Sseguuya also dismissed claims that the increase in the number of gorillas at Bwindi could be attributed to the insurgency in the DR Congo. He said Bwindi was detached from Virunga Massif where Uganda, Congo and Rwanda share 480 gorillas, with Uganda having 80 of the 480. Therefore, this makes Uganda the highest in gorilla breeding, Dr Sseguuya added.