Security during Gorilla trekking
Gorilla tracking is considered to be the leading tourist activity in Uganda and safety and security of those intending to trek gorillas is concerned. Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, volcanoes National park in Rwanda and Virunga National park in Democratic republic of Congo. That said and done, the virunga region and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park share boarders with the Democratic republic of Congo a country considered to be highly unstable. In eastern congo, there several factions of rebel groups including Allied Democratic Front, Intarahamwe from Rwanda and other rebel groups fight the elected government of DRC.
Because of the above, gorilla trekking can be mistaken to be a high risk activity yet a highlight on any Uganda or Rwanda safari. In 1999, an interahamwe short dead some tourists in Bwindi Impenetrable national park sending signals of insecurity in the forest and the region at large.
Because of the above, there has been several efforts to ensure security prevails in this region. The United Nations has a peace keeping force in this region with Uganda and Rwanda deploying on respective border posts.
In Bwindi Impenetrable national Park, gorilla trekkers are escorted by Uganda Tourism police as well as Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers to ensure safety and security of tourists. In instances where tourists require to wake up early driving to the starting point of gorillas, they are escorted to ensure that nothing happens to them.
Leaving security threats alone, is the activity itself safe? The answer is yet. This is because, mountain gorillas families that are visited by tourists are the ones which are habituated. Habituation takes 2-3 years followed by a mock exercise before it is open to tourists. In other words, if tourists follow instructions from their guides/rangers, then there should not be any problem.
In the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable national Park and Volcanoes national park, other animals too reside. These include un habituated mountain gorillas, un habituated chimpanzees in Bwindi, forest elephants and buffaloes among others. The fact that trekkers are always moving on foot, chances of encountering such animals are high. What governments of Uganda and Rwanda have done is to ensure that tourists are escorted with armed rangers and tourism police to make sure that wild animal trying to be hostile are scared away although such cases are rare.
To sum it all, gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is safe and can be enjoyed by any one at any time as people like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and others have successfully trekked gorillas.