Ululation as Uganda Welcomes Two Gorilla Infants in Bwindi Forest

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Baluku Geoffrey

There is great joy and excitement in Uganda following the birth of two baby gorillas. The infant gorillas thought to have been born on April 25 and May 1, 2020 were spotted in Bwindi Forest National park’s Muyambi and Nshongi groups.

Silverback Muyambi of Muyambi gorilla family alongside an unnamed mother were spotted taking on their parental duties just as Mother Kabagyenyi and Silverback Bweza of Nshongi gorilla family. Gorillas tend to be very aggressive when they get a baby therefore it is not possible to get closer to establish the sex of the baby few days after birth.

Muyambi group is one of the new gorilla-groups that opened for tourism in 2019. It has six family members including the unnamed mother who joined the group from one of the unhabituated gorilla-groups in the park.

According to Uganda Wildlife Authority, the custodians of all National parks and game reserves in the country, Muyambi was an adult member of Mubare family but split away from the family and formed another group called that was eventually named Muyambi.

On the other hand, Nshongi group was the first gorilla group to be habituated in Rushaga with at least 35 individuals that kept on splitting. Currently, the group has 9 individuals and the infant brings the number to ten. The new mother, Kabagyenyi joined Nshongi from a wild group in the park when she was a sub adult. Later, Silver Back Bweza who is the head of Nshongi group started mating with her whose fruits are now seen with the new birth.

The Bwindi Impenetrable mountain gorilla population in western Uganda has increased significantly from the 2011 figures of 400, former Tourism Minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu revealed late last year.

“In an area encompassing Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, and Sarambwe Nature Reserve, DRC, an area of 340 km2, 459 individual gorillas were found in 50 groups with 13 solitary individuals,” he said during the release, of the Bwindi gorilla census.

These latest figures when combined with results from an earlier study in nearby Virunga Massif, suggests the global population of the primates has grown to 1,063.

With the ravaging novel coronavirus pandemic and its associated challenges like lockdown that has affected travel across the globe, the birth of these baby gorillas brings hope for continued sustainable gorilla tourism giving future clients and researchers a chance to meet and interact with these endangered species in their natural habitat.

– Bwindi Impenetrable Forest –

Gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (BINP) in South Western Uganda covers an area of 321 km² between 1,160m and 2,607m above sea level.

Bwindi Forest has the highest number of mountain gorilla families in comparison to the other four National Parks in the Virunga massif. The massif comprises Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda, Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Just like in other gorilla national parks, each gorilla family is visited by 8 people for an hour each day. In order to partake of gorilla trekking, each visitor will require a gorilla-permit which costs $600 in Uganda (but will effective July 1st 2020 increase to $700). Elsewhere, the Rwanda and DRC gorilla permits cost $1,500 and $400 respectively.

A significant share of the proceeds and park entry fees goes back to the villages. These revenues are being used to build schools and other infrastructure in and around the park (s).

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