Mountain Gorillas of Uganda
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Bwindi Gorillas
I have not made the trip to view the gorillas in Uganda and I don't know if any of our teams have ever done so. I read often in the Internet Newsgroups that the permits sell out way in advance. Something like six permits per day are issued in advance, and two per day on a walk-up basis (however, every day there are always many people waiting in the walk-up line). It seems the best source of such tickets is through a safari company which books the trips in advance. I hope to add a link here in the soon.

Quote from Travel Africa Magazine (Summer '99):
"Since the Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla parks reopened on April 2, 103 people have gone gorilla tracking in them. The visitors comprised several Brits and Americans including the US Ambassador. All parties tracking the park's Mountain Gorillas are now discreetly accompanied by an armed escort. Note that stand-by permits are no longer available, and the pleasure of an hour's audience with the gorillas will not set you back USD250 per person. All permits must be booked in advance through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Kampala."

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$2 Million for Gorilla Sector
©New Vision, Kampala
Alfred Wasike
July 31, 2002

UGANDA'S world famous rare mountain gorilla tourism has received a US$2 million (sh3.6billion) boost from the USA for the conservation of the endangered primates in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Parks in southwestern Uganda.

The acting Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Uganda, Rudolph Thomas has launched a new programme to promote conservation of the threatened apes.

The ceremony took place at the White Horse Inn in Kabale July 16. Participants included African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) staff, Kabale District representatives, private sector representatives, and agriculture and rural development specialists.

The US embassy public affairs officer, Mary Jaffers yesterday said the USAID, through its East African International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), is funding this programme in cooperation with the AWF.

AWF is the lead institution for this regional effort focused on the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park areas, entitled "Conservation of Afro-Montane Forest and Mountain Gorillas in a Landscape Context."

"USAID is providing a $2 million grant to AWF for this program. The award is based on the tangible economic results that AWF and its many partners have achieved over the past fifteen years", Jaffers said yesterday.

During 1994-1999 gorilla tourism attracted net foreign exchange earnings of $7.7 million (sh13.8bn), generated $15.4 million (sh26.6bn) in sales for the economy, and contributed $4.77 million (sh8.6bn) in Government taxes.

As a result of the achievements of AWF and its IGCP partners, there has also been an increase in gorilla populations in the region, from 320 in 1989 to 355 in 2001.

"Much of the credit for this population increase should go to the dedicated field staff operating on the ground in extremely dangerous circumstances,"Jaffers noted.

The AWF program will combat serious threats to the forests and the surrounding landscape (e.g., agricultural conversion, unsustainable forest use) by using a conservation and development approach.

Previous work in the region has shown that economic opportunities must go hand-in-hand with conservation.

Some of the potential enterprises to be developed as part of the programme include eco-tourism, honey production, essential oils, specialty coffee and sustainable forest utilisation.

In addition to income generation from tourism, there has been an increase in crop production for many farmers in the Mgahinga National Park zone, and services to communities have increased through the construction of schools, clinics and water schemes.

Copyright © 2002 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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Four Rare Gorillas Killed in Congo
©The Associated Press
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
November 1, 2002

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) - Poachers killed at least two rare mountain gorillas and snatched a young female in eastern Congo, Rwandan officials and conservationists said Friday.

Authorities found two bodies on Oct. 26 when poachers led them to the site, admitting they had killed the animals and taken the female, said Rwandan police spokesman Tony Kuramba. Later, two more dead gorillas were found, and authorities were trying to determine if all four deaths were linked.

Only about 650 of the animals are still alive, and the survival of some may be threatened by a civil war in Congo.

The area where the gorillas died is in the Virunga Mountains, a chain of extinct volcanoes that straddles the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and Congo,

The poachers were arrested early last month after three men were caught by police trying to sell the young female for $20,000, said Francois Bizimungu, an official at Rwanda's national park authority.

Of the estimated 650 mountain gorillas in the world, about 350 are found in the national parks in the Virunga Mountains. The others live in a separate national park in Uganda.

Rwanda and Uganda vigilantly guard their gorilla populations against poachers, but the civil war in Congo has left rebels in control of the park there. The rebels have not paid the park rangers in years, making the area easier for poachers to work in, Bizimungu said.

The young gorilla, named Mvuyekure, was being held in quarantine while experts try to determine whether it is safe to take her back to the wild.

They fear Mvuyekure may have picked up human diseases, which could have devastating consequences if transmitted to gorillas in the wild.

"Diseases such as measles and mange, even the common cold, are easily transmittable from humans to gorillas," said Dr. Mike Cranfield, director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, which is funded by the Morris Animal Foundation in Englewood, Colo.

Copyright ©2002 The Associated Press, 11/01/02 12:38 EST.

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Rwanda Jails 9 for Killing Rare Gorillas
©The Associated Press
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
February 5, 2003

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) - Nine people, including three park rangers, have been jailed and fined for killing two adult mountain gorillas and stealing a baby gorilla, an official said Wednesday.

The three park rangers, who were supposed to protect the endangered gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, were each sentenced to four years in jail and fined $6,000 for the May 2002 attack, said Claude Seruhungu, who manages the rangers at the park.

Four other men - all from a town bordering the park in northeastern Rwanda - were each sentenced to two years in jail and fined $3,000 for the killings and theft, Seruhungu said.

A woman who was caught trying to sell the baby was sentenced to one year in jail, he said.

The nine were convicted of poaching an endangered species and sentenced on Jan. 29 but the decisions were not made public at the time.

"This is intended to send a message that poaching does not pay," Seruhungu said. "We hope that this will discourage others."

There are only 670 mountain gorillas living in the wild. About 350 live in the Virunga Mountains, a chain of dormant volcanoes that straddles the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.

The other 320 gorillas live in a park in Uganda.

Mountain gorillas have been the focus of international research and conservation efforts. Diane Fossey set up camp in the park in the 1960s and documented her work in the book ``Gorillas in the Mist.''

Killing of the gorillas remains relatively rare - the May 2002 attack is believed to be the first time in 17 years that adults were killed to steal a baby.

But there are concerns that attacks may be on the rise. In June 2001, Rwandan rebels killed two young mountain gorillas, apparently for food.

In September 2002, another four adult gorillas were killed and a baby stolen on the border between Rwanda and Congo.

Three men, who were caught in October when they tried to sell that baby to undercover police for $20,000, have confessed to those killings, Seruhungu said.

Poachers target baby gorillas because they are less aggressive and easier to handle and transport, he said.

"What we hear is that there is a German guy in Nairobi trying to recruit local residents on the Congolese side of the park to take up poaching," Seruhungu said.

Copyright ©2003 The Associated Press, 02/05/03 11:50 EST.

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