Is Gorilla Trekking Ethical and Good for Conservation? This is one of the major questions that conservation-minded tourists ask. Gorilla trekking still features as the bucket-list adventure when it comes to safaris to Africa. But what remains uncertain is how gorilla trekking is ethical. Gorilla trekking is significant in wildlife conservation/protection, particularly mountain gorillas. Whether Gorilla Trekking is ethical or not remains one area of concern amongst enthusiastic travelers. The fact is that gorilla trekking is ethical!

Uganda Wildlife Authority and other stakeholders have developed Comprehensive conservation initiatives. These aim to ensure that all visits to Uganda gorillas or gorillas in Rwanda are ethical.

Plight of the mountain gorillasAs of 1960, the mountain gorilla population was at an estimate of 240 individuals. These massive apes survive only in the 3 African nations: Uganda, Congo, and Rwanda. The world heard their plight thanks to Dian Fossey for her conservation initiatives and for letting the world know about these apes.

As of 2023, about 1080 endangered mountain gorillas still exist in the wild. They thrive in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park &Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. In Rwanda, gorilla trekking takes place in Volcanoes National Park. In DR Congo, gorillas thrive in Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Virunga National Park.

How ethical is gorilla tracking?

The Buhoma sector in Bwindi opened up the first gorilla family to tourists for tracking in 1993. Today, Bwindi alone contains up to 23 habituated gorilla groups. Those families are among the 4 sectors/regions: Ruhija, Nkuringo, Rushaga, and Buhoma. In Rwanda, 12 gorilla families have been fully habituated including the Susa A and Agashya.  Meanwhile, in the D.R. Congo, Virunga NP has 8 habituated gorilla families.

Mountain gorillas are endangered species, and tracking to see them requires you to obtain a valid gorilla permit. You can obtain a gorilla permit through a reliable tour operator in Uganda, Rwanda, or Congo. A valid gorilla permit in Uganda is available for purchase at USD800, USD1500 in Rwanda, and USD400 in the D.R. Congo.

The gorilla permit issued to visitors allows you to enjoy a close encounter with a family of mountain gorillas in the wild. The park uses part of the revenue collected from gorilla permits/gorilla safaris to directly support different conservation efforts. These efforts aim at saving the lives of these apes.

The set prices for gorilla permits play a significant part in reducing visitor numbers. As a result, it helps promote the conservation of these large apes. Of recent, concerned nature lovers have become very conscious of the ethical issues that surround gorilla encounters. When booking gorilla permits, strictly persons above 15 years are eligible for trekking.  8 people maximumly visit Each gorilla family per day.

The set gorilla trekking rules and regulations

While on gorilla trekking, there are set guidelines for every trekker to observe whether it is Rwanda, Uganda, or Congo. The gorilla trekking guidelines that tourists observe include;

  • Always observe a distance of 7 meters away from gorillas. This serves to reduce any chances of them contracting infectious human diseases.
  • In case you aren’t well, the rangers won’t allow you to visit gorillas.
  • Do not feed gorillas while on a trek.
  • The park highly prohibits Littering in the gorilla habitat.
  • When gorillas charge at you, look down, this is a sign of submissiveness and avoid direct eye contact.
  • You should not use flashlight cameras. Alternatively, you can turn off the flashlight before you begin taking any pictures.
  • Do not make loud noise while tracking mountain gorillas.

Threats to mountain gorilla survival in the wild

Longevity of the mountain gorillas remains a major challenge considering the various threats they encounter in the wild. These include infectious diseases. Mountain gorillas share over 95% of their DNA with humans. This makes them very susceptible to infectious human diseases.

Poaching has proven to be a major threat not only to mountain gorillas but also to other wildlife in Africa. People poach these large apes for several reasons. These include the need for their body parts for the traditional medicine trade.

Habitat loss –mountain gorillas confine within the natural tropical rainforest-dominated areas in Africa. Nearby communities have encroached on these parks. The increase in human population comes with an increase in the need for land for settlement and farming.

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