The number of mountain gorillas in the Virunga vault that combine the gorillas of Uganda , Rwanda and Congo has increased  according to experts. The number is believed to have reached 900 from 700 usually portrayed by the facts noted since 2006 when the last census was done.

The government has laid out plans of conducting a census for gorillas to find out their actual numbers. The first census in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in western Uganda was carried out in 1997. It showed that there were 300 gorillas but the number rose to about 320 five years later and 340 in the last census conducted in 2006.

 “It will help us to know whether the animals numbers have lowered for proper solutions to stop them from extinction and diseases that mostly kill them,” Mr Pontius Ezuma, the Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust manager, said at the weekend.

The Gorillas of Mghinga , Virunga and Volcanoes national park is believed to have increased from 380 in 2006 t0 480 current. The census in Bwindi impenetrable forest  has been launched  and the numbers are belied to have risen from 340 in 2008 to 400 now.

Bwindi has 28 gorilla families of which 6 are habituated for gorilla tracking  and one on research. Gorilla safaris done by tourist visit the parks contribute a lot to the national income and improve living livelihoods of the communities within the surroundings of theses national parks. Each gorilla permit cost USD 500.

The tests for bacteria that cause diseases to the animals will be done at Makerere University laboratories. Mr Ezuma said the exercise, which is implemented by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, started last month and would end this Saturday.

He said 75 enumerators have been trained to carry out the exercise that involves counting nests where the gorillas sleep, collecting their faecal matter for genetic analysis and placing geographical positioning system points to avoid double counting.

The samples will be taken to Germany for DNA tests for genetic identity of different animals to provide accurate results. “The 2006 census showed 340 gorillas safaris from counting nests, but the genetic analysis showed 302 and it is considered more accurate. This time around we are applying both methods,” said Dr Martha Robbins of Max-Planck Institute in Germany, who is heading the census team. “Results of the census will be tallied to the 480 gorillas counted from Virunga Conservation Area last year,” she added.

The area consists of three national parks: Virunga National Park in DR Congo; Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga in Uganda. Uganda currently receives more than 2,400 gorilla-tracking tourists


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