Monday, March 26, 2012

New Mountain Gorilla Joint Anti-Poaching Unit Formed

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda whose two national parks of Virunga and Volcanoes respectively are separated by the border of the two countries have formed a joint anti-poaching team as a result of the death of baby mountain gorilla on the 12th of February 2012.

Poachers encroach into these national parks and lay traps in order catch small animals like duikers and other lesser antelopes that are resident within these national parks. These snares however end up catching some of the mountain gorillas and killing the babies that are most susceptible to being trapped by these poacher's snares.

It is not uncommon to find maimed mountain gorillas, with some limbs missing due to the horrible snares that poachers lay in the national parks for other animals.

Mountain gorillas are highly endangered and the greatest threat to these animals include encroachment into their habitat leading to loss of habitat and human wildlife conflict. The other threat is poaching which was the number one cause of the huge loss to the number of mountain gorillas.

The plight of these great apes was made known to the world by the renown primatologist Dian Fossey who spent the better part of her life protecting and advocating for the protection of these mountain gorillas and other beautiful primates found in the region.

The formation of the anti-poaching unit has led to the capture of many snares and traps laid in the jungles of these mountain gorilla habitats.

The Virunga's which comprises the Volcanoes national park and Virunga national parks in Rwanda the Democratic Republic of Congo have half of the world's mountain gorillas in the wild.

The other half of the mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park in Uganda. The park has a great number of mountain gorillas and is considered by most travel expert as the best place to do mountain gorilla trekking trips in Africa.

The other place where mountain gorillas can be in Uganda is Mgahinga gorilla national park however the mountain gorillas in this place often cross over to Volcanoes and Virunga national park.

Gorilla safari packages bring in lots of money for both Rwanda and Uganda where gorilla trekking permits are charged

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Permit Fees Increased

Rwanda has continued to see a phenomenal increase in the number of tourists visiting the Country especially due to the attraction of the mountain gorillas.

The Rwanda Development Board has increased the gorilla permit fees from $500 to $750 as a result of the increased number of tourists who come to see gorillas in Rwanda.

Some of the locals in the areas around Volcanoes national Park are excited about the increment in the number of mountain gorilla safari permits. According to some the local communities will see an increase in the amount of money received from the revenue sharing programs. The Rwanda tourism body ensures that money from gorilla tracking is shared with the communities around Volcanoes national park as with other tour attractions in the Country.

Rwanda mountain gorillas are a must-see for any tourist visiting Rwanda, and fetches the Country millions of dollars annually.

“Additional tourism revenue would lead to increased share that is given to park communities. We’re expecting an enormous increase in community projects.” According to a local from one of the districts, around Volcanoes national park.

He further stated that “We have several projects which need financing and the more returns from the country’s tourism the better.”

The 50% increase in the Rwanda gorilla permits announced in January cuts across board meaning non-resident foreigners will be paying $750 dollars from the initial $500, resident foreigners will be paying $350 dollars and the residents will also see an increase in the amount paid to $50 from the initial $33 for gorilla tour in Rwanda.

According to the Rwanda Development Board the increment in gorilla tour fees was because the low permit fees threaten the conservation of the mountain gorillas as the number of tourists too high for gorilla safari given their numbers

However, according to the RDB, the new changes will not affect the price of gorilla permits being bought now and 1st June 2012.

According to John Gara, the Chief Executive Office – CEO of the Rwanda Development board the increment in gorilla tours prices, coincides with the increase in the gorilla tourism as well as the rapid increase of the mountain gorilla population which has been about 3.7% for the last couple of years.

According to Gara, the number of visitors doing gorilla safaris increased between January and March 2011 by about 5 percent with an average number of 61 gorilla safari visits in a day.

Rwanda gorilla tourism fetched $251 million last year, whereas in 2010 there was a 14 percent increase from the previous year with the Country earning $200 million.

Rwanda has now tried to diversify and benefit from the popular mountain gorilla safari by introducing new packages such as the the canopy walk at Nyungwe forest national park.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tourism Benefiting Locals In Uganda

Tourism in Uganda has helped a lot in improving the lives of many Ugandans including in the rural areas. The number of tourist arrivals in Uganda has increased significantly over the years and this has translated into dollars for different people involved in the hospitality industry.

Tourism however remains a foreign concept to many Ugandans despite the benefits that it is providing to this Country. Very few Ugandans have visited the different national parks in Uganda. Although the size of the British Isle, Uganda has over 10 national parks in addition to other different game reserves and conservation areas.

About 125,203 tourists visited Uganda national parks in 2004; however by 2009 the number of tourists had increased tremendously to 145,000 arrivals.

Uganda’s tourism despite its great initial potential after independence was greatly affected by the dictatorial reign of Idd Amin in the 1970s. A large number of Uganda’s wildlife was decimated due to poaching and poor management of the wildlife.

Rhinos for instance were hunted to extinction in Uganda. This was partly due to superstition by the soldiers who believed that wearing a rhino horn made one invincible.

However also during the 1990s there was war in northern by the Lord’s Resistance Army - LRA as well as south western Uganda by the Allied Democratic Forces - ADF and media reports about these incidents negatively affected the country’s image.

One of the worst of these incidents was the massacre of tourists in Bwindi national park who had gone on a gorilla safari in 1999 by the ADF rebels. Gorilla tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda’s tourism. Almost all Uganda tour packages have gorilla tour in Bwindi included in the itinerary.

The other notable incident was the killing of students from the Jimmy Sekasi Institute of catering and hospital by the LRA in 2001 in an area of Uganda’s largest national park – Murchison falls national park in northern Uganda.

In order to realize the goal of conservation, conservations have poverty alleviation as one of the key objectives of conservation of wildlife. Uganda Wildlife Authority has for years now made it a point in its revenue sharing program to ensure that 20% of the annual revenue collected from any national park goes back to the communities surrounding the national park or tour attraction.

In total there has been over $2 million that the Uganda Wildlife Authority has given back to the local communities in the national parks through their local governments and the money is often used to provide services to the community as well as start projects for the locals in the area.

There are over 30 districts found around Uganda’s national parks and protected areas. All these districts under their local government have identified projects under the revenue sharing scheme that the Uganda Wildlife Authority can partly finance.

These locals have identified projects such as constructions of classrooms, teachers’ houses, clinics, roads, irrigation schemes, community halls and centers etc.

In addition to this locals benefit from tourism activities directly, for instance the locals around Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park as well as Mountain Rwenzori national park earn more in a month than most civil servants earn in a year from being porters to the tourists when doing gorilla trekking and Rwenzori mountain climbing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Murchison Falls Tsetse flies being Eradicated

Murchison falls national park is one of the leading and largest of Uganda national parks. It is located in North Western Uganda and receives one of the highest number of tourists visiting Uganda. Tourism in Uganda has grown in leaps and bounds thanks to the improved security and the peace that the Country is enjoying.

Tsetse flies have affected the areas around Murchison falls national park and this has been worrying stakeholders in the tourism industry. However the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has now embarked on the process of eradicating tsetse flies in the region.

Mr. Luyimbazi Fredrick the Assistant Commissioner for Entomology has said that this will help boost tourist confidence in the area. Mr. Luyimbazi Fredrick visited the region recently during a Murchison falls safari and found that the number of tsetse flies in the region had greatly reduced.

The Assistant Commissioner toured Red Chilli rest house, Sambiya River lodge and the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices all which are located in the Murchison falls national park. He urged government to invest in the eradication of tsetse flies in the region.

There was an incident where a tourist provided negative publicity about the tourism in the Country. A tourist visited Murchison Falls national park in August 2011 and posted bad reviews about the place saying it swarmed with tsetse which is actually not true. The tourist was telling other tourists not to visit the region.

The entomologist said one other solution to the tsetse flies is spraying with environmentally friendly pesticides.

Apart from mountain gorilla tracking, the other top Uganda travel package is a Murchison falls national park safari.and Queen Elizabeth Safari

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mizano Black Back Killers Fined $20

In June 2011, Mizano the only black back in Habiyanja family of mountain gorillas was speared to death by three poachers who had encroached into Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The three poachers Amos Kazongo, Fideli Begumisa and Ronald Byamugisha were immediately arrested after the incident and their traps confiscated by authorities. Gorilla safari

This month the three poachers were tried and found guilty by a court in Kanungu District where the the crime took place. However due to what conservationists have called an ignorance by the judicial system about the importance of mountain gorillas to Uganda' s economy, the judge surprising fined each of the poachers only Shs. 50,000 which is approximately just under $20. The court ruling like the crime has sparked anger among conservationists.

The spokesperson of the Uganda Wildlife Authority - UWA noted that the judge was not aware of the importance and the danger of extinction faced by the mountain gorillas. With only about 790 mountain gorillas found in the World they have been listed as critical endangered.

Mountain gorilla safari packages can be done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park as well as in Mgahinga mountain gorilla national park. Gorilla safari in Rwanda can only be done in Parc Des Volcanoes which is the most accessible national park for gorilla trekking among the three Countries in which gorillas can be found.

If you are interested in mountain gorilla trekking visit

Monday, July 18, 2011

Uganda Tour Companies Trained in Bird Watching

Uganda which is the size of the British Isle has a very large number bird species some of which are endemic to the Country like the fox weaver bird. Uganda has over 1,047 bird species in all and offers great birding safari opportunities for the avid birder. Lack of proper marketing of the sector coupled with a few quality Uganda birding guides has limited the development of bird watching in Uganda. In comparison the United States sees over 80 million bird watchers annually compared to Uganda which more bird species.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has however recognized the importance of birding and has now started putting emphasis on training birding guides as well as many young people and Uganda tour Company operators.

According to Mr. Masaba Steven the Acting Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority who is in charge of Tourism Uganda – The Pearl of Africa has the largest population of birds in the whole of the continent.

Of all the bird species found in Africa 50% can be found in Uganda and 10% of the bird species in the whole World.

About 50 birding guides were passed out at the Kibale forest national park which has the Makerere University Biological field station in Fort Portal.

Uganda’a bird watching potential if properly marketed can help generate lots of income which would rival chimpanzee tracking and gorilla tracking which are the leading tour attractions in Uganda. It would also help create employment and boost the Country’s economy.

There are efforts underway to help create bird trails as well as map out bird watching sites in many of the protected areas to help boost the sector.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gorilla Naming Ceremony

The success of gorilla conservation in Uganda and Rwanda has led to increased revenue from mountain gorilla safari to both these countries. In Rwanda this success led to the initiation of a ceremony; in 2005, the Rwanda office of Tourism and National parks officially launched a ceremony; "Kwita Izina", a baby gorilla naming event equivalent to the cultural ceremonies the people use when naming their new born babies. That is how important the then head of the body charged with protecting wildlife especially the conservation of mountain gorillas viewed the birth of these endangered species. It was officially inaugurated by His Excellence Paul Kagame the president of the Republic of Rwanda when two baby gorillas born to the same mother were Christened in a grand ceremony making the birth of the first gorillas born in the wild since the conservation efforts began.

Since then many dignitaries, including Hollywood stars, ambassadors, renown people from well known television channels like Discovery and Animal Planet have since graced these wonderful event. During the events many people from within Rwanda and the international community gather in a what the ORTPN; Rwanda Office of Tourism and National parks terms as a celebration of the conservation efforts and community development success. The event is marked with great cultural performances such as the graceful Kinyarwanda dance with priests and the press in great numers.

Conservation has led to the growth of tourism in Rwanda enabling gorilla tracking, wildlife protection and increased revenue. This is also true for Uganda unlike the Democratic Republic of Congo which is still have political issues in the eastern region where the mountain gorillas found around its border with Uganda and Rwanda.

However in Uganda, the conservation efforts are being set back with the increasing need of land for cultivation to support the increasing population and the allocation of wetlands and protected areas to investors.

For your gorilla safari to Uganda and Rwanda there are number of tour operators that can arrange for you to track these gentle, majestic giants that number less than 800 in the wild. The money from these gorilla tours enable the respective governments ensure the protection of these endangered species of primates and also the development of the communities around the protected areas in these regions.

For more information on Rwanda gorilla naming ceremony

Your can visit some of these sites for :

For accommodation options in East Africa.
  1. Uganda safari lodges
  2. Kenya hotels
  3. Tanzania hotels