Five Gorilla Babies Born in Bwindi in just six weeks: Gorilla ‘Baby Boom’
Ugandan gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have a ‘baby boom’ as five baby gorillas have been born in six weeks. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is experiencing an unprecedented baby boom in the mountain gorilla population. Several baby gorillas have been born to the different gorilla groups with the latest being born to the Rushegura gorilla family, born by an adult female known as Ruterena. The Rushegura gorilla members have now increased to 18 gorillas. The Rushegura gorilla family also had another baby gorilla birth on 27th August 2020 born by Kibande (the most senior lady and kingmaker of the family).
In April 2020, the Rushaga gorilla sector also registered the birth of two babies in Muyambi and Nshongi gorilla groups. According to the Chief Warden of Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area (BMCA), Guma Nelson, the new babies then were thought to have been born on April 25 and May 1, 2020, respectively. Mother Kabagyenyi and Silverback Bweza of Nshongi were observed by the monitoring team of rangers tightly guarding the baby gorilla while in the Muyambi group, silverback Muyambi was often seen on patrol to decisively protect the family’s new entrant. Adult Female Kabagyenyi joined the Nshongi family from a wild group when she was a sub-adult.
Muyambi group on the other hand is the newest group that opened up to tourism in 2019. It has six family members. The unnamed mother joined the group from the wild. Muyambi was an adult member of Mubare family but split away from Mubare and found a family of his own.
So far in 2020, about 7 baby gorillas have been born in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is great news.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park-a a UNESCO site with ID 682 is host to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas with about 500 individuals of the estimated 1063 global mountain gorilla population living in the park. The outbreak of the Novel coronavirus and closure of the park in March 2020 was worrying to gorilla conservation and the whole of Uganda’s tourism industry. However, the positive outcome of the year has been a great boom or increase in the number of mountain gorillas that have been born in the park.
Reproduction in mountain gorillas is slow and this is why the number increases at a very low rate. A female mountain gorilla gives birth to a single baby in about 4 years. The infant mortality rate is also high which makes the population increase very slow.
Mountain gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Mountain gorillas live in their natural habitat and the only way to see them in Bwindi is by taking Uganda gorilla safari. To see the mountain gorillas, tourists have to trek through the dense jungle of Bwindi, for about 2-6 hours. However, upon finding these gentle giants, only a maximum time of 1 hour is what individuals can spend watching the gorilla family. Each morning, a group of 8 individuals is allocated a single gorilla family to trek. Each group goes along with armed park rangers. The trekking experience itself is one that is memorable and worth undertaking, combined with watching a gorilla family for one hour is a lifetime experience. After gorilla trekking, tourists are awarded certificates as a congratulatory certificate and proof for undertaking the trek.
It is known that the mountain gorilla population of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, moves for longer distances and this makes trekking more strenuous compared to the Virunga massif.
Gorilla Habituation Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Rather than the popular gorilla trekking, Bwindi is the only place for a gorilla habituation experience. Mountain gorilla habituation is the activity done by park rangers especially to make the specific wild gorilla population familiar with the presence of humans. Before any mountain gorilla population is opened up for gorilla trekking, it goes through habituation. Each day, a total of 4 tourists may join the park rangers, conservationists, and gorilla doctors for a gorilla habituation experience. For mountain gorilla habituation persons, spend about 4 hours interacting with these “almost habituated gorillas”. These gorillas are not fully habituated and therefore a chance to see the behavior of gorillas in the wild before getting familiar with the presence of humans. A gorilla habituation permit costs US$ 1500.
Mountain gorillas are categorized as endangered by the IUCN Red List and the Uganda Wildlife Authority and partners are committed to protecting these elusive species and see an increase in their totals. Gorilla ‘baby boom’ in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is good news for conservationists and those intending to undertake Uganda gorilla trekking.
Mountain gorillas are also found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, also open for those interested in trekking. The other habitats are Volcanoes National Park for Rwanda gorilla tours and Virunga National Park for Congo gorilla safari.