Largest gorilla group habituated
Publish Date: May 31, 2009
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By Gerald Tenywa

A total of 34 mountain gorillas in the Nsongi family have been habituated in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for viewing. The group is believed to be the largest in the world.

Habituation is a process through which wild animals get used to human presence without losing their wild character.

A team led by Benjamin Bayenda, who has tracked gorillas for 20 years, habituated the gorillas since the beginning of last year.

“We believe the gorillas are ready for tracking because of the way they are responding,” said Bayenda.

“On Monday we shall introduce them to white tourists because they need to get used to them.”

Bayenda said only six tourists would initially be allowed to track the gorillas, adding that after about a month when they are used to their presence, the number will be increased to eight.

Lillian Nsubuga, the Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesperson, said the animals were endangered and only 700 lived in Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo.

Nsubuga said the gorillas lived in families led by an alpha male who protects the group.

She said out of the 28 groups in Bwindi only six had been habituated. She said the groups are Mubale, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Nkuringo, Bitukura and Nsongi. Gorilla tracking contributes half of the tourism revenue.

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