GORILLA HABITUATION PROCESS
Gorilla habituation is done purposely for purposes of tourism and research. It is the process by which Gorillas are made familiar to human beings and it is done for 2-4 year until gorillas get used to the people to facilitate trekking. Rangers do primary habituation and then joined by a group of experts or researchers.
In the year 2012, a new Gorilla Census for Uganda which was conducted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and released by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. It was discovered that Mountain Gorillas in Uganda were and are increasing and out of 480 Mountain Gorillas in total – 400 in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and 80 in Mgahinga Forest National Park.
How are Gorillas habituated?
Gorilla habituated by visiting a selected group of wild gorillas every day until it gets used to these researchers and thereafter to tourists/ trekkers. After some time, all gorilla individuals are identified in terms of their sex, age and later given names by rangers, researchers, influential persons among other. Researchers must test and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that those gorillas can be visited by tourists, they conduct mock exercise/trips for six to eight months or more. Once this is successful, then the habituated family is opened for tourism.
From 1993, about 12 gorilla groups and families have been habituated in Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park and they include Mubare Gorilla group which was the first habituated group in Bwindi Impenetrable forest.
More two Gorilla groups from Buhoma were also habituated - Rushegura and Habinyanja gorilla families. In Buhoma, Rushegura gorilla group is easily found closer to the Park head Quarters and then Habinyanja gorilla family. The nearby Gorilla groups are mostly trekked by visitors who are not fit to walk for longer distances, aged, sick and visitors on tight schedule.
In the nearby eastern region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, 3 gorilla groups are now habituated and they include Bitukura gorilla family, Oruzogo gorilla family and then Kyaguriro gorilla family 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 groups have split up to form new Gorilla groups. In total, Rushaga trekking has Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza.
In Nkuringo trekking centre, only one gorilla group is found – it is called Nkuringo family.
In the Virunga mountains over 14 gorillas families have been habituated with one gorilla family known as Nyakagezi found Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, about 10 Gorilla groups are habituated in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda where most of these gorillas are spread in popular volcanic mountains which include Mount Mgahinga, Mount Muhavura, Mount Sabimyo, Mount Karusimbi and Mount Bisoke and so on.
Other gorilla families habituated in Democratic republic of Congo in the extensive Virunga National Park. Gorilla trekking in Virunga National park is on and off because due to political unrest in the eastern part of this vast country.Before embarking on your Gorilla trekking trip in Democratic republic of Congo, make serious consultation about the prevailing political situation.