National
New census for Bwindi gorillas
Publish Date: Oct 16, 2011
New census for Bwindi gorillas
UWA wardens with the help of the GPS device tally numbers in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park h
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Francis Kagolo     

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has launched a new census of the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi impenetrable national park to assess their numbers and document information on poaching and other illegal activities.

The census is also intended to estimate the population of other mammals like bush pigs, elephants, and monkeys and human activities in the park for planning and conservation purposes.

The census if funded by the international gorilla conservation programme, a global agency dedicated to protecting gorillas and their habitat, to the tune of $100,000 (about sh280m).

According to Martha Robbins, the German expert leading the census, the team counts gorilla nests, other than individual gorillas, and collect their feaces. The feaces will be used for generic analysis which, she said, provides the most accurate estimates.

The team, comprising of Ugandans, Rwandese and DR Congo wildlife experts traverses the entire 331sq.km forest in a zigzag style in search for fresh gorilla trails until their nests are found and counted.

This is the fourth gorilla census conducted since Bwindi was gazetted a national park in 1991 and declared a Natural World Heritage Site by Unesco in December 1994. The first census of 1997 revealed 300 gorillas while the number increased to 320 in 2002.

However, in 2006 when the generic census analysis was first introduced, the number fell to 300. Robbins could not give projections for this year, saying the results would come out next year after the generic analysis is completed at a laboratory at Germany-based Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Journalists and UWA wardens climb the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hills in the 2011 gorilla census exercise

Mountain gorillas, the backbone of Uganda’s tourism industry, are critically endangered, with only 720 individuals remaining in the world. These live in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.

Bwindi Park harbours half of the gorilla population and the remainder roams the Virunga ranges shared by the three countries.     

Pontious Ezuma, the conservation manager for Bwindi, said the number of tourists tracking gorillas has increased from 1,313 in 1993 to 15,112 last year.

The number is expected to increase even further, thanks to three more gorilla groups which UWA is to open. The groups, including Oruzogo, Kahunge and Mishaya, which Ezuma said would be launched next month, habour over 60 newly habituated gorillas.

This will bring the number of habituated gorilla groups in the park to 10, one of which is reserved for only research purposes. With each group accommodating eight tourists daily, it means that the park’s annual capacity would increase from 20,440 to 26,280 tourists.

The number of gorilla-tracking tourists has been increasing annually, save for 1999 when it dropped from 2,437 in 1998 to 2,111. This arose after the killing of eight foreign tourists by the Interahamwe rebels from the DRC.  Since then, the Government has tightened security arround the park, which Ezuma said is key for tourism growth.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
MPs promise farmers not to pass agric inputs tax
Members of Parliament have assured farmers across the country and civil society organizations that they are not going to pass the proposed tax on agricultural inputs....
Kyambogo admissions for PWDs ready
The admission letters for Kyambogo University students admitted under the People with Disabilities (PWDs) government scholarship scheme is ready, according to the institution’s spokesman Lawrence Madete....
Urban TV presenters to back Kabushenga at Pakasa Forum
Two vibrant youngsters from Urban TV will host interviews on the sidelines of the 4th edition of the Pakasa Forum on Saturday. Vision Group CEO, Robert Kabushenga will be the host....
Bombo mourns veteran Gaagaa bus driver
Hundreds of mourners Wednesday turned up for the funeral of Marsal Ayubu, the veteran bus driver who died after sustaining serious injuries in the Monday accident at Nakasongola along the Gulu Highway....
Five injured in Gulu bus accident
Five people were injured after a bus they were travelling in got involved in an accident along Gulu - Juba road Thursday morning....
Prof. Mamdani counsels Lukwago
Prof. Mahmood Mamdani advises embattled Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, to take advantage of the “suffering” of the people in the city....
Will strict traffic laws reduce road accidents?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter