Gorillas Of Uganda

0 Comments

Mountain Gorillas of Uganda

Gorillas Of Uganda: A Magical Experience

Coming face-to-face with rare and incredible mountain gorillas of Uganda is one of the most exceptional Uganda wildlife encounters you can have with Tulambule Uganda safaris.

Gorillas in Uganda or Uganda gorillas live in high cloud forests of southwest.

Mountain gorillas are highly endangered. Only about 1,063 are estimated to exist in the wild. Given their remote habitat and their endangered status, seeing these elusive Great Apes in the wild can require some extra exertion.

But as those who have experienced one of our gorilla trek Uganda tours can attest, the rewards far outweigh the trekking effort.  Here are just a few reasons why:

An Intimate Encounter With Uganda Gorillas

There are two spots for trekking gorillas in Uganda. These include Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in the Volcanic Virunga Mountains.  Bwindi alone is home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.

Visits to the gorillas of Uganda are particularly special. This is due to the fact that Bwindi is home to 22 distinct gorilla families that are habituated – in other words, gorilla families that are familiar with and tolerant of, the presence of small numbers of humans.

Therefore, after a certain amount of trekking with your local experienced ranger guides (who are intimately familiar with the movements and habits of gorillas), you and other 7 other visitors will be able to settle into a spot where you can silently observe and photograph as many as 20 wild mountain gorillas.

You will watch them as they go about their daily business – eating, grooming one another, dozing, and playing – for a maximum of one hour.

In-Depth Learning About The Gorillas Of Uganda

An integral part of every Tulambule Uganda safaris gorilla-trekking itinerary is the thorough education you will receive about these gentle, mysterious primates.

During your Uganda gorilla trekking tour amid the verdant jungles of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga to find mountain gorillas and afterward, your guides will impart a wealth of gorilla-related wisdom.

You will learn about the formidable physical power of gorillas of Uganda.

And how according to research, a silverback (a mature male mountain gorilla) can weigh more than 450 pounds (200 kilograms), has 9 times the strength of a human man, and can bite more forcefully than an African lion.

You will also learn about the fundamentally shy, gentle nature of the gorillas.

You will learn how they form long-lasting family bonds, dote on their young, and spend most of their lives peacefully foraging for plants to eat.

Mountain Gorilla Family - Gorillas of Uganda
Mountain Gorilla Family – Gorillas of Uganda

Gorillas can consume up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of leaves, bark, roots, and fruit per day.   You will also learn that gorillas are highly intelligent and intensely curious creatures.

You might even be lucky enough to witness firsthand if an inquisitive mountain gorilla youngster tries to venture close to your trekking/viewing group.

For the safety of the endangered mountain gorillas and yours, the Uganda gorilla trekking rules require you to keep a distance of about 20 feet (7 meters) from gorillas.

Attentive Guidance & Eco-friendly Lodges

The trek to see the mountain gorillas of Uganda can be strenuous.

While primevally beautiful, teeming with lush foliage, monkeys, butterflies, reptiles, and numerous birdsong, the misty cloud forests where the gorillas live is also steeply pitched, sometimes muddy, and can only be traversed on foot.

Getting to the location where you can view Uganda gorillas may require a 2 to 3-hour hike each way. This is one of the reasons why all gorilla trekkers in the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks are required to be at least 15 years of age.

Still, trekking gorillas in Uganda with Tulambule Uganda safaris ensures you’ll have plenty of assistance along the way.

Your guides will gladly help you navigate tricky terrain. Once you have finished your day’s trek, you will get to relax, share stories and dine in supreme comfort at one of Tulambule’s opulent partner safari lodges in Uganda.

Whether you choose to unwind after your adventure with a drink in comfortable lounge area at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp or just relax with a massage in the Spa at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, you will feel pampered, revived, and ready for another day of gorilla trekking adventure.

To learn more about once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking tours in Uganda or Uganda gorilla safaris, contact one of Tulambule Uganda safari specialists today.

Rushaga Gorilla Camp, Gorillas of Uganda
Rushaga Gorilla Camp

Affordable Permits For Trekking Gorillas Of Uganda

In Uganda, the gorilla trekking permit costs:

  • $700 for foreign non-resident visitor
  • $600 for foreign resident visitor
  • And UGX 250000 for East African Citizens

In contrast, permits in Rwanda now cost $1,500 for all visitors.

Most gorillas trekking in Uganda takes place in Bwindi, where there are multiple starting points and several gorilla families to track.

More About The Gorillas Of Uganda

The mountain gorillas of Uganda live for 35 to 40 years in the wild.

They live in family groups with home ranges that vary from three to 15 square kilometers.  Due to the mountainous landscape and readily available food in their habitats, the Mountain Gorillas usually move only about 500m per day.

Male mountain gorillas weigh over 200 kilograms (450 pounds) with an upright standing height of about 171 centimeters (6 feet).

This compares to females, at up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and 140 centimeters (5 feet). Uganda gorillas reside primarily on the ground but will climb sturdy trees in search of food.

Classification Of Gorillas

There are 2 species of gorillas:

  • The eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei), and
  • The western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)

There are also 2 eastern gorilla subspecies, namely:

  • The eastern lowland/Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), and
  • The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

There are two western gorilla subspecies:

  • The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli); and,
  • The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Gorilla Families Dynamics

Mountain gorillas live in family groups of up to 20 individuals.

A gorilla family consists of one adult male who is typically older than 12 years, a few adult females, and their offspring of various ages. The mature male is often referred to as a “silverback” because of the silvery grey fur on his back.

Some gorilla families in Uganda will have more than one mature male, but only one alpha male or leader. The subordinate male (commonly referred to as a “blackback” and often 8 – 12 years old) serves a backup role.

And he will acquire the position of leader if the silverback dies.

Both females and males have a tendency to emigrate from their natal family groups. The females leave at an earlier age than males.

The silverback is the leader of the family. He makes all the decisions and mediates conflicts between family members. He determines the movement of the gorilla family between feeding and resting/sleeping areas.

Also, he is responsible for the family’s safety and well-being. The bond between a silverback and his ladies is important to gorilla social life.

Female gorillas seek relationships with males, for mating rights.  And for protection from predators (mainly leopards) and outside males (which may kill baby gorillas).

If a mother dies or leaves the family, the silverback will often look after her abandoned offspring. Experienced silverbacks are known to remove poachers’ snares from their family members’ hands or feet.

In families, aggressive encounters between males and females are uncommon. However, females may behave aggressively against one another (particularly if not related).

Most conflicts are resolved by threat displays intended to intimidate.

These include hooting, rising onto the legs, throwing of sticks and leaves, chest-beating, kicking with one leg, sideways running on all fours and thumping the ground with the palms.

During territorial battles, rival silverbacks from different families have been known to kill each other using their huge canines as lethal weapons.

When a silverback dies, his place in the family may be assumed by one of the family’s younger males. If this is not the case, a new silverback may enter the family, often killing all of the babies of the deceased silverback.

Mountain Gorilla Nests

Mountain gorillas construct nests on the ground, where they relax during the day and sleep at night. The nests are made of a loose pile of branches and leaves.

Baby gorillas sleep with their mothers. And they begin creating their own nests around the age of three.

Gorilla Reproduction

Once they attain sexual maturity, gorillas mate year-round.

Typically, females reach maturity between the ages of 10 and 12 and males between 11 and 13 years of age. The gestation period (duration of pregnancy)  lasts 8.5 months. And females can give birth every 4 years.

Similar to humans, baby gorillas are vulnerable and reliant on their mothers for survival. Male gorillas are not active in caring for the baby (unless the mother dies). However, they do have a role in socializing them with other youngsters and shielding them from aggression within the family.

Infants remain in contact with their mothers for the first 5 months. They rest/sleep in the same nest and suckle at least once per hour during that time.

Infants begin to separate from their mothers after five months, progressively increasing independence. Juveniles are weaned and sleeping in separate nests from their moms by their third year.

Juvenile Mountain Gorilla In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Juvenile Mountain Gorilla In Bwindi

Gorilla Communication

Within their densely-forested home, Gorillas use a variety of distinct vocalizations to communicate. These consist of:

  • Grunts and bark while travelling
  • Screams and roars to signal alarm or warning
  • Rumbling belches of contentment during feeding and resting periods

Conservation Status & Distribution Mountain Gorillas

The mountain gorilla population has increased from less than 900 individuals in 2010 to an estimated 1,063 in 2018, according to a recent survey conducted in 2018.

This rise is mostly attributable to the cooperation of people who live near mountain gorillas, NGOs that work on the ground, and tourists who pay in hard currency for the privilege of trekking to see mountain gorillas.

There are two mountain gorilla populations in Africa:

  1. An estimated 604 mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes – which includes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, DR Congo’s Virunga National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda;
  2. An estimated 459 gorillas in Bwindi National Park in Uganda.

As a result of the aforementioned conservation achievements, the mountain gorilla was recently reclassified in the IUCN Red List as ‘Endangered’ (facing a very high risk of extinction), improved from its previous category of ‘Critically Endangered’ (facing an extremely high risk of extinction).

Major Threats To The Gorillas Of Uganda

Factors contributing adversely to the conservation status of mountain gorillas in Uganda include:

1. Habitat Loss

As the region’s rising human population struggle to scrape out a livelihood, forest clearance and degradation pose the greatest threat to gorillas of Uganda.

Deforestation is caused by land conversion for agriculture and competition for scarce natural resources such as firewood, to variable degrees. Additionally, the harvesting of charcoal as a cooking fuel has decimated gorilla habitat.

2. Diseases

    Gorillas are vulnerable to human illnesses.

    And when in contact with people, they are susceptible to contracting lethal diseases ranging from the common cold to Ebola.

    As gorillas have not evolved the required immunities, first exposure to a disease or virus that is generally harmless to humans may decimate a population.

    According to studies, however, mountain gorillas that are habituated with researchers and tourists have fared better than those that are not habituated.

    They benefit from the increased protection available in those areas and from regular monitoring. Increased survival is also largely due to better veterinary care of sick and injured gorillas.

    3. Poaching

    Mountain gorillas are seldom or never directly targeted for bush meat or the pet trade. However, they may be captured and injured by traps intended for other wild animals.

    Conclusion

    Populations of mountain gorilla are now slowly increasing, thanks to the dedicated work of so many passionate people on the ground.

    Local residents, government conservation agencies, researchers, non-profit organizations, and paying visitors are among these stakeholders.

    Let us savour this rare victory in the ongoing war to keep Earth’s charismatic species, in fact, all species, safe from extinction.

    Tags: , , ,

    Most Popular Uganda Tours

    Blog Archives

    More Uganda Safaris

    Uganda Safaris Information

    Our Recent Travel Guides & Blogs