Mountain Gorillas, Jungle VIP!
Seeing the endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda, was one of the much awaited highlights of our biking tour – although we did not take the bikes into the forest/jungle here!
The Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is part of the Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area, bordering Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks provide a home to half of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas in South Western Uganda. Currently the population of the mountain gorillas stands above 300 in Uganda
There is a fast population growth leading to increase to intense farming around and up to the protected areas edge that leaves no buffer zone at all. The border between the farms and the jungle is like drawn with a ruler – dense forest starts from the side of the crop field. This population sometimes suffer negatively from results of conservation activities like wildlife crop damage which infuriates them and sours relations.
The farmers are also not allowed to enter the jungle and look for the gorillas. This is a job for special rangers, who daily look up the area where the gorillas are and visit them daily regardless of tourists. Just to keep the friendly connection alive.
Gorillas are strictly protected by law. We were told about a man who had shot a gorilla dead in self-defense – being sentenced to 12 years in prison.
They are not called mountain gorillas for no reason. we started our climb on the side of the mountain, entering a dense jungle led by the rangers and helpful assistants ensuring that we actually can reach the gorillas.
We used walking sticks to help the climb and to maintain balance but as soon as we were close to the gorillas, these walking sticks were collected from us. The gorillas may mistake the sticks as weapons and act accordingly. We did not want that as some of the are BIG! And all of them are strong!