19 November 2012

Uganda: Region Gorilla Numbers Up

Kampala — The population of mountain gorillas in the region has hit 880, which is a major boost to wildlife tourism.

Bwindi impenetrable National Park recorded an increase from 340 gorillas in 2006 to 400 in 2012.

It had an increase of over 60 gorillas. The Virunga Masiif parks that include the Mghahinga National park in south western Uganda, Virunga in Rwanda and the DRC.

The DRC had 480 gorillas according to a recently released census.

The new Mountain Gorillas Census carried out by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in the two parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Virunga Massif Park showed that the number has increased at high rate compared to other census which the authority last carried out in 2006.

The gorilla increment was attributed to the sound natural resource management policies that are being implemented in the protected areas.

"As the responsible organ, UWA has sensitized the communities about nature and conservation in the protected areas around the parks. This has provided good habitat sites for the mountain gorillas to breed, increasing numbers at a high rate," said UWA Executive Director, Dr Andrew Sseguya during the release of the census figures in Kampala last week.

Sseguya revealed that the number of gorilla families have increased from 34 to 36.

"Of the 16 solitary males of the 36 families, 10 are habituated for tourism and research," he stressed.

Mountain gorillas live in families headed by a Silverback which is the dominant male. However, gorilla families can sometimes split to form new entities especially when there is more than one Silver back.

When asked whether the country is also experiencing growth in the number of other animals in the other national parks, Dr. Seguya said Uganda was much better as other species like elephants and nntelopes' population was growing.

"Currently the number of elephants in the whole county stands at 5,000 compared to the 1,000 in the early 1980s.

"Even for the other species like antelopes their population is good," he explained.

Sseguya warned that the country may experience a setback in the tourism sector due to climatic changes which are affecting the ecosystem.

He pointed out that some parts of the National parks are experiencing grass shortage to feed the herbivorous species.

Commenting on a report delivered by Uganda's Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Heritage, Maria Mutagamba said the findings will help her ministry to come up with better tourism programs.

She explained that they will help in the promotion of tourism.

The minister further said that since the population of gorillas were going up, various government agencies needed to work together to ensure that the environment for attracting tourism was conducive.

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