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Uganda increases gorilla trackers

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th August 2005 03:00 AM

UGANDA has followed Rwanda and the DR Congo by increasing the number of tourists tracking the coveted mountain gorillas from six to eight, top wildlife officials have said.

UGANDA has followed Rwanda and the DR Congo by increasing the number of tourists tracking the coveted mountain gorillas from six to eight, top wildlife officials have said.

By Gerald Tenywa

UGANDA has followed Rwanda and the DR Congo by increasing the number of tourists tracking the coveted mountain gorillas from six to eight, top wildlife officials have said.

Damian Akankwasa, the head of the tourism department at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), told the press on Friday that research revealed that the increase in the number of trackers would not undermine the health of the endangered gorillas.

A statement released by UWA said there was an increasing demand for gorilla tourism in Uganda, especially in the peak seasons of June, July and August.

“This move will increase revenue for UWA, tour operators, hotels and local communities and enhance the capacity of UWA to implement its conservation programme,’’ a statement said yesterday.

Prior to the increase of the tourist number to eight excluding guides in each group, gorilla tourism was taking a lion’s share of the country’s tourism revenue.

Gorilla permits fetch US$360 (about sh630,000) from each foreign tourist and sh100,000 for Ugandans and resident expatriates.

Gorilla eco-tourism was introduced in Bwindi, southeastern Uganda, in the early 1990s to conserve and protect the endangered species of great apes and to generate revenue for the Government and local people.

Bwindi harbours over half of the global population of gorillas estimated at 700 and the rest live in the Virungas, which straddles Uganda (part of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Rwanda and the DR Congo.

The statement said for the last 12 years, Uganda has been issuing up to six permits for gorilla tracking and monitoring the impact of tourism on the animals.

Rwanda and Congo have been issuing eight permits for the same period and also measuring the impact of tourism on the gorillas, said the statement.

While Uganda has habituated 23% of its gorilla population in Bwindi, over 70% in Rwanda and the DR Congo have been habituated.

Uganda increases gorilla trackers

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