Uganda Safari Attractions.
Uganda is “gifted by nature” once described by Sir Wintston Church hill in 1908 has a unique description which cannot be close to the truth……”For Magnificence, for variety of form and colour for profusion of brilliant life-plant, bird, reptile, beast- for true vast scale, Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa”……situated in the heart of Africa ,astride equator ,boasts of wide diverse of landscape from ragged snowcapped mountains the vast flat lands stretching to the horizon, Uganda offers breathtaking scenery. You can enjoy a lot of Uganda safari in variety.

UGANDA GORILLA SAFARIS

RWANDA GORILLA SAFARIS

existence & History of gorillas

The Existence and History of Mountain gorillas

The existence of gorillas in Africa’s forests like Bwindi has been known for centuries and not only to local residents. Gorillas were first described 2000 years a go when sailors from North African province of Carthage landed in West Africa and tried to capture some Apes, a bruising encounter that earned the animals the Carthaginian name for ‘scratchier gorilla’. It is not actually clear whether the visitors encountered gorilla or chimpanzees but the name has stuck.

Two species of gorilla the western lowland and the eastern lowland were identified for science in 1847 and 1877 respectively. It wasn’t until 1903 that the third sub species, the mountain gorillas was identified. This was observed to be somewhat bulkier than its lowland cousins weighing up to 210 kilograms with a shaggier coat suited to its chilly montane habitat. This sub species was named after the German officer, Oscar Von Berenge, who enabled its classification.

Indeed until just a few decades ago, gorilla received a bad press that dated back to their first unfortunate encounter with Carthaginian tourists 2000 years a go. This ferocious image was deliberately perpetuated to create a myth eventually immortalized on screen.

Mountain Gorilla Description

Mountain gorillas rank among the rarest animals in the world. Gorillas are apes together with chimpanzees are our closest relatives; indeed a more impartial observer than Dr. Homo sapiens (PhD zoo) might wonder why Homo’ gorillas, and pan merit categorization as separate genera since their genetic codes are almost the same. Humans share 97.7% of their genetic material with gorillas and 98.4% with chimpanzees. The Scientific name for the Mountain Gorilla is Gorilla beringei beringei. Mountain Gorillas are extraordinarily burly and have a short trunk and a broad chest and shoulders.

The Mountain Gorilla is the hairiest race of gorillas. Its long, thick black hair insulates it from the cold living conditions at high elevations ever raining foggy and wet. Even one wonders how they survive no wonder for the few numbers remaing on the globe.

When the males are mature they develop a streak of silver hair on their backs and are therefore called “silverbacks Gorillas.” Adult male gorillas can weigh up to 400 pounds, while females can weigh about 200 pounds. Female gorillas don’t have silverbacks like the males. When a male gorilla with a silverback is standing upright, they can be as tall as 5 and a half to six feet tall.

How Do Gorillas Look Like?

Mountain gorillas rank among the rarest animals in the world. Gorillas are apes together with chimpanzees are our closest relatives; indeed a more impartial observer than Dr. Homo sapiens (PhD zoo) might wonder why Homo’ gorillas, and pan merit categorization as separate genera since their genetic codes are almost the same. Humans share 97.7% of their genetic material with gorillas and 98.4% with chimpanzees. The Scientific name for the Mountain Gorilla is Gorilla beringei beringei. Mountain Gorillas are extraordinarily burly and have a short trunk and a broad chest and shoulders.

The Mountain Gorilla is the hairiest race of gorillas. Its long, thick black hair insulates it from the cold living conditions at high elevations ever raining foggy and wet. Even one wonders how they survive no wonder for the few numbers remaing on the globe.

When the males are mature they develop a streak of silver hair on their backs and are therefore called “silverbacks Gorillas.” Adult male gorillas can weigh up to 400 pounds, while females can weigh about 200 pounds. Female gorillas don’t have silverbacks like the males. When a male gorilla with a silverback is standing upright, they can be as tall as 5 and a half to six feet tall.

Where Do Gorillas Live?

The mountain gorillas is the world’s most endangered ape found only in small portions of protected afromontane forests in southwestern Uganda, northwestern Rwanda and eastern Congo. The mountain gorillas are one of many species unique to these forests. The forests are also home to many wonderful birds, primates, large mammals, reptiles, insects and plants. They also ensure continued water and medicinal plant resources for the local communities.

The mountain gorillas are divided into two populations. 2003 figures estimate the total population to be about 700 individuals. One population of about 350 is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern, Uganda and the other in the virunga Volcano range. The Virunga Volcano range is ecologically homogenous (same flora and fauna) covering three adjacent national parks in three countries: Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcano national park in Rwanda and Virunga national in Congo with a total area of 450km2. The last census has put gorilla numbers to 800.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda has more than half of the global estimated population of 780 mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in south-western Uganda, on the edge of the western rift valley( Albertine rift) and is shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro Districts. It is 331 square kilometers in size and on the altitude range of 1,160 meters to 2,607 meters. The annual average temperatures range from 7C?-20C?with the coldest period being June and July.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park borders Congo and is UNESCO World Heritage site. The park boasts over 326 mountain gorillas, the largest of all Ape species in the world. Bwindi Impenetrable national park is the only forest in Africa in which both Gorillas and Chimpanzees live together. The number of Bwindi chimpanzee population size is unidentified but estimated at 350-400. The forests where the mountain gorillas live are often cloudy, misty and cold. One can even wonder how they survive in such habitat and thus no wonder that their population has not been increasing for some time instead decreasing. At the bottom of the mountains, the vegetation is very dense, becoming less so as you go higher up.

Convervation Efforts, How To Help

Gorillas were considered worthy protection and the American Carl Akeley persuaded the Belgians to protect their Congolese and Rwandan Volcano slopes in the new Parc National des Albert, Africa’s first national park in 1925. The Uganda slopes were declared a gorilla game sanctuary in 1931 but it was still not until 1960 that anyone bothered to observe gorillas sufficiently to appreciate their true nature.

The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF) is devoted to the preservation and protection of the highly endangered Mountain Gorillas in Africa, their habitat, and working with the people around the National Parks. The Denver Gorilla Run is a charity fun run with a difference. Everyone who takes part wears a full gorilla costume – from feathery head to hairy toe and helps raise funds for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, the international charity working to save the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas and keeping Dian Fossey’s dream alive for the past 21 years.

The World Bank and the UN have recognized the initiative of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in the protection of the globally endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda. Uganda is the only country in which gorilla populations have been time after time on the rise and where the population is part of effective matter. Legislation that recognizes its habitats within a gazetted national system of protected areas. An excellent way to help protect the last remaining mountain gorillas is to adopt a gorilla. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) makes this possible with profits from adoptions directly going to support research on the mountain gorillas and the local communities living in the periphery of protected areas.

How you are contributing to the conservation of the mountain gorilla

The threats to the mountain gorilla population and its habitat are many. One of these threats is the possibility of disease transmission to the gorillas and reduces behavioral disturbances to this fragile population; these gorilla rules have been developed.

By following these rules and through the purchase of a permit, you are contributing to the conservation of the mountain gorilla. The protected area authorities use the funds generated from the sale of this permit for the management of national parks and wild reserves. A percentage of the funds raised from the park entrance fees and community levy permits is shared with the local communities living adjacent to the parks to contribute to their development projects and to improve natural resource management in the region.

Goals of the conservation

The detection of the Mountain Gorillas took place in the Virunga Mountains, on October 17th, 1902, by Captain Robert von Beringe. In festivity of this event and to promote the preservation of the Mountain Gorillas, the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF) is undertaking several projects to achieve the celebration of this event and to promote the preservation of the Mountain Gorillas, the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF) is undertaking several projects to achieve the goal of saving these gorillas from extinction. The Current Projects section gives a brief description of eight of these projects. The “Preservation through Visualization” portion of this project promotes the number one task set before the MGCF.

In 1987, only 248 Mountain Gorillas lived in the wild. Because of projects coordinated by the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, there are now over 700 living in the wild. The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund is devoted to ensuring the future of the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By providing a partnership of business, wildlife conservation, and community development, MGCF addresses the single biggest challenge facing preservation of these animals today; how do we help communities in developing areas grow and prosper without destroying precious habitat or the Mountain Gorillas, who call it home.

Gorilla Tracking Rules

On the way to the gorillas

A maximum number of 8 visitors visit a group(family) of habituated gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbances to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.

Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.

Do not leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back with you.

You will be taken to where the guides left the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorillas trial to find them. Look out for the gorillas nesting sites along the way.

When you approach the gorillas, the guides will inform you when to get your cameras ready.

Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.

When you are with the gorillas.

Keep a minimum of 7 meters (21feet) from the gorillas. This is to protect gorillas from human disease transmission.

You must stay in a light group when you are near the gorillas.

Keep your voices low at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.

Do not eat or drink while you are near the gorillas to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guide’s example crouch down slowly, do not look at the gorillas in the eyes, and wait for the animals to pass. Do not attempt to run away. Running away will increase the risk of attack.

Flash photography is not permitted, when taking pictures, move slowly and carefully.

Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.

The maximum time visitors are allowed to spend with the gorillas is one hour to limit their disturbances. If the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will end the visit early.

After the visit, keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General Health Rules.

Remember gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following are always to minimize the risk your visit might pose to them:
Respect the limit imposed on the time that visitors are allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.

If you are feeling ill, or have a contagious disease when you are already at the park, please volunteer to stay behind. An alternative visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money as per gorilla reservation guideline.

If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or virus.

Always stay 7 meters (21 feet9 away from the gorillas. The
further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.

Do not leave any rubbish e.g. food wrappers in the park. Such items van harbor diseases or other contaminants.

If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide, to dig you a hole. He will fill it when you have finished.

Note: Any breach of these rules may lead to termination of tracking without any refund.

How Do Mountain Gorillas Behave?

Mountain Gorilla Behaviors

Social Behavior

Mountain gorillas are extremely social, and live in relatively steady, unified groups of about 12 animals, consisting of one or more dominant silverback males, some younger blackback males and females (juveniles) and their infants. Mountain gorillas held together by long-term bonds between adult males and females. Relationships among females are relatively weak (Stewart and Harcourt 1987). These groups are non-territorial; the silverback generally defends his group rather than his territory. In the Virunga Mountain Gorillas, the average length of tenure for a dominant silverback is 4.7 years (Robbins 1995).

61% of groups are composed of one adult male and a number of females and 36% contain more than one adult male. The remaining gorillas are either loan males or exclusively male groups, usually made up of one mature male and a few younger males (Harcourt 1988). Group sizes vary from five to thirty, with an average of ten individuals. A typical group contains: one silverback, who is the group’s undisputed leader; one or two blackbacks, who act as sentries; three to four sexually mature females, who are ordinarily bonded to the dominant silverback for life; and, from three to six juveniles and infants (Fossey 1983).

Most males and about 60% of females leave their natal group. Males leave when they are about 11 years old, and often the separation process is slow: they spend more and more time on the edge of the group until they leave altogether (Lindsley and Sorin 2001). They may travel alone or with all-male group for 2-5 years before they can attract females to join them and form a new group. Females typically emigrate when they are about 8 years old, either transferring directly to an established group or beginning a new one with a lone male. Females often transfer to a new group several times before they settle down with a certain silverback male (Watts 1990).

The dominant silverback generally determines the movements of the group, leading them to appropriate feeding sites throughout the year. He also mediates conflicts within the group and protects them from external threats (“Life of Mountain Gorillas” 2002). Experienced silverbacks are capable of removing poachers’ snares from the hands or feet of their group members (Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe [BRD]). He is the center of attention during rest sessions, and young animals frequently stay close to him and include him in their games. If a mother dies or leaves the group, the silverback is usually the one who looks after his abandoned offspring, even allowing them to sleep in his nest (Stewart 2001). Mountain gorilla life is peaceful and quite. You’ll generally find a group laughing around, chewing leaves, tolerantly fending off boisterous infants and farting continuously and contentedly.

Are Gorillas Aggressive:

Conflicts and severe aggression is rare in stable groups, serious violence being generally limited to occasions when an interloper challenges a silverback for control of a group. Nevertheless it’s easy to see how the gorilla gained the reputation of fearsome jungle beast, its chest beating display and usually mock charges are behavioral practices meant to intimidate. But when two-mountain gorilla groups meet, the leading silverbacks can sometimes engage in a fight to the death, using their canines to cause deep, gaping injuries (Fossey 1983).

For this reason, conflicts are most often resolved by displays and other threat behaviors that are intended to intimidate without becoming physical. The ritualized charge display is unique to gorillas (SNZP). The entire sequence has nine steps: (1) hooting slow to fast, (2) throwing vegetation, (3) rising bipedally, (4) symbolic feeding, (5) slapping and tearing vegetation, (6) one leg kick, (7) sideways running, two-legged to four-legged, (8) chest-beating with cupped hands, and (9) thumping the ground with palms to end display (Maple and Hoff 1982).

Gorilla Affiliate

The midday rest period is an important time for establishing and reinforcing relationships within the group. Mutual grooming reinforces social bonds, and helps keep hair free from dirt and parasites. It is not as common among gorillas as in other primates, although females groom their offspring regularly. Young gorillas play often and are more arboreal than the large adults. Playing helps them learn how to communicate and behave within the group. Activities include wrestling, chasing and somersaults. The silverback and his females tolerate and even participate if encouraged (SNZP).

Gorilla Vocalizations

Twenty-five distinct vocalizations are recognized, many of which are used primarily for group communication within dense vegetation. Sounds classified as grunts and barks are heard most frequently while traveling, and indicate the whereabouts of individual group members (Harcourt et al. 1993). They may also be used during social interactions when discipline is required. Screams and roars signal alarm or warning, and are produced most often by silverbacks. Deep, rumbling belches suggest contentment and are heard frequently during feeding and resting periods. They are the most common form of intra group communication (Fossey 1983).

Because of the extensive research begun by Dr. Fossey and since carried on by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and other gorilla conservation groups, the mountain gorilla is one of the most understood of all gorillas. The general consensus of those who work closely with the mountain gorillas is that they are generally peaceful and gentle.

This doesn’t mean that they won’t occasionally charge, scream or show their teeth, to an outsider or within the group itself. Most of these Mountain Gorilla actions are meant to serve as warnings, to ward off danger or to prevent a fight. Mountain gorillas can communicate in a variety of ways, including facial expressions, sounds, postures and gestures. There is the classic chest beating by male gorillas, which is used to show stature, scare off opponents or even to prevent a fight. When the Mountain Gorilla feels threatened they can make a variety of loud sounds, resembling roars or screams. Facial expressions are mostly used as communication. An open mouth with both upper and lower teeth showing means aggressions. A closed mouth with clenched teeth could signal anger.

One of the nicest sounds is heard when the group is resting after a period of feeding. Mountain gorillas roughly spend 30% of their day feeding, 30% moving, and 40% resting. At dusk, they prepare to settle down for the night and sleep in nests made of vegetation that the gorillas shove under and around them. Forming of nests is mainly the bending of soft trees, breaking mature bamboo sticks and other tree species that have broad leaves to provide a blanket and shield against the cold. Mothers find a comfortable spot where their backs will be supported as they breast feed and cuddle their babies for the night.

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