Uganda celebrates 25 years of gorilla conservation through tourism

Mountain Gorillas have survived in Uganda, largely due to conservation efforts and these are directly assisted by tourism, which first started in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, twenty-five years ago.

Back in 1993, just one family - named 'Mubare' after the hills in which they lived - was habituated to humans, allowing just 8 tourists a day to have a magical gorilla encounter. For gorillas to become relaxed with human presence there is a long, drawn out process, which can take up to 5 years. The process sees them gently introduced to rangers, who edge ever closer, whilst also staying a little longer each day. Once the gorilla family is deemed to be fully comfortable with humans, tourists are permitted to spend a magical hour in their company, as they interact with other group members. Twenty-five years on, the number of habituated groups now stands at 15, with park visitors increasing from 1,313 to almost 20,000 in 2016. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is responsible for maintaining the mountain gorillas' forest home. With no mountain gorillas ever surviving in captivity, it highlights just how vital protecting their natural habitat is to their survival. UWA Executive Director, Andrew Seguya commented, "Consistent and sustained conservation efforts to protect mountain gorillas have succeeded. For the last 10 years, Uganda has led the way and our numbers are increasing, especially after our recent baby-boom. In Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga National Park, we now have well over 50% of the world's gorilla population."