baby gorilla

Another baby gorilla born in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Bwindi impenetrable national park has welcomed another baby gorilla adding to already its impressive number of mountain gorillas. The park is home to about 500 mountain gorillas which is almost half of the 1,063, their global population.

There are 24 gorilla families in Bwindi that have been habituated for gorilla trekking safaris. Gorilla treks in Bwindi are conducted at 4 gorilla centers which include Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo. 

The new baby gorilla was born in the Nkuringo gorilla family, which resides in the Nkuringo sector along with other three groups which include Bushaho, Christmas, and Posho. The Nkuringo group has 14 members including two silverbacks, 6 adult females, 3 infants, 2 black backs, and 1 juvenile. 

According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Furaha, one of the adult females gave birth to a baby gorilla on Saturday, 20th April 2024, bringing the total number to 15. Nkuringo’s habituation began in 1997, and the group opened to tourists in 2004. This was remarkable year as the family welcomed twins, a rare occurrence among primates.

baby gorilla

Rangers are able to identify the twins who are now adult females. With such a significant draw for tourists and conservationists alike, Nkuringo became a prime sector not only for gorilla trekking but also for beautiful scenery, cultural encounters, walking safaris, and responsible tourism.

 “Nkuringo” is a word in the local language of the Bakiga people, who inhabit the region where the Nkuringo sector is located in southern part of Bwindi. It means “round hill”, a name that reflects the topography of the Nteko ridge, a landscape characterized by rolling hills and mountains at the edge of the Albertine rift valley.

The lodges in Nkuringo sector are situated on the ridge offering stunning views of Bwindi and the Virunga Volcanoes. A picturesque backdrop awaits for a keen photographer. Among the local communities surrounding the sector also include the Batwa pygmies, also known as the “forest people.”

Visitors to the sector have the opportunity to engage in village walks to gain insights into the traditional way of life. You will also learn how locals benefit from direct involvement in conservation and lodges. For instance, the Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is owned by the local community and managed as private leasehold property.

baby gorilla

The high-end lodge obtains resources including food stuffs and decorative art pieces from the local community. Responsible tourism is being adopted in the sector as with the story of Lydia who owns the Nkuringo Bwindi Lodge. One with a strong responsible tourism policy, the lodge engages in tree planting, rain water harvesting and is recognized as a carbon neutral lodge by the Uganda Carbon Bureau to offset carbon emissions. 

The lodge launched a walking safari that allows visitors to walk through the Bwindi forest from Buhoma to Nkuringo and vice-versa. The nkuringo walking safari can take 2-3 hours depending on the pace.

With each new birth, the number of gorillas continues to grow in Bwindi impenetrable national park. There has been an exponential growth of mountain gorilla population both in Bwindi and the Virunga Conservation Area, which includes Mgahinga, Volcanoes, and Virunga national parks in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo respectively.

The recent gorilla census shows that the population has increased from 620 in 1998 to 1,603 individuals. This growth is attributed to several factors including scientific research and effective conservation measures and the involvement of local communities living adjacent to the gorilla habitats. 

History of Nkuringo family

Nkuringo was the first group to be habituated in the whole sector and has made a perfect example of community conservation. The gorillas used to move from the park into people’s farms often raiding crops.

This problem caused people to see gorillas as problem animals often resulting into retaliatory acts of encroachment and poaching. Gorillas share 98% of their DNA with humans, which make them susceptible to human infectious diseases including flu, covid-19, and scabies. Due to frequent contact with human and domestic animal waste, the Nkuringo almost lost most of its members due to scabies.

There were no confirmed deaths, thanks to the work of veterinary gorilla doctors who always intervene to prevent diseases and treat sick or injured gorillas. The UWA community conservation department in partnership with the International Gorilla Conservation program (IGCP) created a 12-km buffer zone so that people’s farms would be far away from the park. They also formed the human-gorilla conflict resolution program (HUGO), where the local farmers act as stewards to monitor and chase gorillas from their gardens back into the park.  

The Covid-19 pandemic brought a huge setback to Nkuringo when its silverback Rafiki was killed by poachers in 2022. According to UWA official statement, the silverback was speared when it confronted poachers that had gone into the forest to hunt antelopes.

Due travel restrictions, many people lost jobs in tourism and there was increased pressure on natural resources. While the Uganda Wildlife Act provides room for heavy punishment to wildlife crime, the important thing for conservation of gorillas has been involvement of locals.

UWA shares 10% of the gorilla permit fee through revenue sharing, the funds are invested in improvement of livelihoods of people. While the government is doing its work, tourists can also help to save mountain gorillas by supporting the local community projects. You can take a village walk, buy souvenirs, eat from local restaurants, and book your Uganda gorilla safari through a responsible tour operator. 

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