The Bwindi Impenetrable mountain gorilla population in western Uganda has increased significantly from the 2011 figures of 400, Tourism Minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu has revealed. Kamuntu made this revelation during the official opening of the Third Meeting of the Parties of the Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and Their Habitats (Gorilla Agreement) in Entebbe.
“The Bwindi Impenetrable mountain gorilla population in western Uganda was about 400 individuals in 2011. The 2018 census is now complete and all signs from the census indicate that the population has grown significantly,” Prof Kamuntu said.
Adding that the census results would soon be announced after genetic analysis was complete.
Prof Kamuntu also noted that the Virunga massif gorilla population shared by Uganda (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park) and DRC (Virunga National Park) had also increased from 480 individuals in 2010 to now 604.
“We are very proud to be part of a global success story to recover the iconic mountain gorilla population of the world,” Kamuntu said.
He attributed the increase in mountain gorillas inhabiting the region to effective conservation policies, regulated tourism and veterinary interventions, intensive law enforcement, community conservation projects, and transboundary collaboration among government institutions and non-governmental organizations.
“In 1997, Bwindi Impenetrable population had only 300 mountain gorillas. So growing the mountain gorilla population to more than 1000 individuals has been a great success story largely delivered by regional cooperation between Uganda, Rwanda and DRC,” said Kamuntu.
Gorillas, the largest of all great apes, have been and continue to be a source of inspiration and fascination for humans. This largest primate, unfortunately, as a whole remains endangered and is under renewed threat. The saving of gorilla populations and their habitats has emerged as one of the epicentres of all conservation and restoration efforts.
With all the challenges involved, Prof Kamuntu reaffirmed Uganda’s commitment to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and all Agreements concluded thereunder including the Gorilla Agreement and African Eurasian Water Bird Agreement.
In Uganda, for example, tourism which is largely wildlife based contributes about 9% of the country’s GDP and continues to be the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda, bringing in US$ 1.45 billion annually,” Kamuntu added.
Speaking to Africa Tembelea, Dr Akankwasa Barirega, the Ag Commissioner Wildlife at Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, noted that, “Uganda’s success in mountain gorilla conservation is an example of our commitment to conserving migratory species. Not only are mountain gorilla numbers increasing which is the ultimate sign of success, but also the well managed gorilla tourism supports the conservation of other species as well.”
– Gorilla Agreement –
Hosted by the Government of Uganda with the generous support of the Government of Luxembourg, the Third Meeting of the Parties of the Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and Their Habitats (Gorilla Agreement) is taking place at Imperial Golf View Hotel, Entebbe from 18 to 20 June 2019.
The Gorilla Agreement is a Multilateral Environmental Agreement under the umbrella of the Convention in Migratory Species (CMS). It aims to facilitate international cooperation to improve the conservation status of gorillas in all ten Range States.
Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda are represented at this meeting to help take stock of conservation measures undertaken for gorillas over the last eight years.
Two species of gorilla, the Western and Eastern Gorilla, are listed on CMS Appendix I, each with two subspecies: The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) and Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
The UN Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), the IUCN Primate Specialist Group, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and other high-level experts of governmental and non-governmental observers are also in attendance.