Gorilla Habituation & Tracking in Uganda & Rwanda
More than half of the world’s mountains Gorillas are found in Uganda, Rwanda & Democratic Republic of Congo. However, more gorilla groups are found in Uganda with 12 habituated groups recorded today. The process of mountain gorilla habituation can take from two to three years to be completed. The process is done by professional researchers who operate under Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA), Congolese National Park Authorities (CNPA) and Rwanda Development board (RDB) in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo & Rwanda respectively.
Gorilla habituation involves visiting a similar group of Gorillas until it becomes familiar to the human beings. With time, all gorilla individuals are identified in terms of their sex, age and later given names. Once researchers are confident enough that these gorillas can be visited by tourists, they conduct a mock exercise/trips for six to eight months. Once this is successful, then the habituated family is opened for tourism.
From 1993, about 12 gorilla families have been habituated for tourism purposes and they include Mubare Gorilla group, Mubare became the first gorilla group to be trekked by tourists which later paved way to other families for habituation. In Buhoma region, two more families were added on to Mubare and these are Rushegura which in most cases is closer to the Park head Quarters and then Habinyanja gorillas group.
In the nearby eastern region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, three gorilla families are now habituated and they include Bitukura group, Oruzogo and then Kyaguriro which is meant for research. In the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, there has been lots of dynamics where the few habituated gorilla families have split up to give to new families. In total, Rushaga region has Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza while in Nkuringo, we do have one habituated gorilla family in the names of Nkuringo group.
Virunga Ranges has over 14 habituated gorilla groups like Nyakagezi located in Mgahinga’s Uganda National Park, about 10 or so gorilla groups located in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda where most of these gorillas are spread in popular volcanic mountains which include Mgahinga, Muhavura, Sabimyo, Karusimbi and Bisoke among others. The other familes habituated for tourism are in Democratic republic of Congo in the extensive Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National park is on and off because of the political instabilities that are a characteristic of the eastern part of this vast country.