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The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has launched a new census of the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi impenetrable national park to assess their numbers and document information on poaching and other illegal activities.

 

The census is also intended to estimate the population of other mammals like bush pigs, elephants, and monkeys and human activities in the park for planning and conservation purposes.

 

The census if funded by the international gorilla conservation programme, a global agency dedicated to protecting gorillas and their habitat, to the tune of $100,000 (about sh280m).

 

According to Martha Robbins, the German expert leading the census, the team counts gorilla nests, other than individual gorillas, and collect their feaces. The feaces will be used for generic analysis which, she said, provides the most accurate estimates.

 

The team, comprising of Ugandans, Rwandese and DR Congo wildlife experts traverses the entire 331sq.km forest in a zigzag style in search for fresh gorilla trails until their nests are found and counted.

 

This is the fourth gorilla census conducted since Bwindi was gazetted a national park in 1991 and declared a Natural World Heritage Site by Unesco in December 1994. The first census of 1997 revealed 300 gorillas while the number increased to 320 in 2002.

 

However, in 2006 when the generic census analysis was first introduced, the number fell to 300. Robbins could not give projections for this year, saying the results would come out next year after the generic analysis is completed at a laboratory at Germany-based Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

 

Journalists and UWA wardens climb the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hills in the 2011 gorilla census exercise

 

Mountain gorillas, the backbone of Uganda’s tourism industry, are critically endangered, with only 720 individuals remaining in the world. These live in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.

 

Bwindi Park harbours half of the gorilla population and the remainder roams the Virunga ranges shared by the three countries.

 

Pontious Ezuma, the conservation manager for Bwindi, said the number of tourists tracking gorillas has increased from 1,313 in 1993 to 15,112 last year.

 

The number is expected to increase even further, thanks to three more gorilla groups which UWA is to open. The groups, including Oruzogo, Kahunge and Mishaya, which Ezuma said would be launched next month, habour over 60 newly habituated gorillas.

 

This will bring the number of habituated gorilla groups in the park to 10, one of which is reserved for only research purposes. With each group accommodating eight tourists daily, it means that the park’s annual capacity would increase from 20,440 to 26,280 tourists.

 

The number of gorilla-tracking tourists has been increasing annually, save for 1999 when it dropped from 2,437 in 1998 to 2,111. This arose after the killing of eight foreign tourists by the Interahamwe rebels from the DRC. Since then, the Government has tightened security arround the park, which Ezuma said is key for tourism growth.

As published by the New vision by Francis Kagolo

PRESS RELEASE FOR THE GREATER VIRUNGA TRANSBOUNDARY COLLABORATION REGIONAL FORUM

 

Theme: Transboundary Collaboration for effective conservation

 

 

1 The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration

The roots of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration lie in the successful collaboration between park authorities in the key mountain gorilla habitat in the Virungas i.e. Virunga National Park (DRC), Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda), Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks (Uganda).

The transboundary collaboration was originally intended to curb poaching and ensure the safety of the mountain gorillas but it later expanded to include the northern part of Virunga in the DRC and other parks in Uganda such as Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks.

Big Birding Day Murchison Falls National ParkA principal Wildlife Officer from the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Mr. Akankwasa Barirega has applauded the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for opening up new trails to promote birding in Murchison Falls National Park and other conservation areas.

Mr. Akankwasa says this is a new innovation which government will support in developing infrastructure and diversification of products to attract more visitors and make them stay longer in the national parks.

Moses Ali and Tourism minister Ephraim Kamuntu led by mountain gorillasUganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) exhibited a variety of products that included promotional and information materials which attracted hundreds of Northern Uganda folks during the week long activities to mark the world Tourism Day in Gulu Municipality on September 27th, 2011.

The exhibition at the TAKS Centre next to Acholi Inn saw excited stake holders including tour operators, hoteliers, training institutes and students among others pick lots of literature and listen to useful information on conservation and tourism from the UWA staff from headquarters and Murchison Falls National Park, manning the stall.

UWA Executive Director at UNAAA presentation detailing Tourism attractions, new products and investment opportunities in Uganda’s protected areas was one of the few that made it to the tight programme of the just ended 23rd Uganda North America Association (UNAA) convention in Denver, Colorado, USA in early September 2011.

Dr. Andrew Ggunga Seguya, the acting Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority, made the presentation to hundreds of Ugandans and their friends living in North America under their umbrella organization (Uganda North America Association).

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has rewarded journalists who have excelled in covering conservation and tourism issues with free entrance to the national parks between September and December 2011.

The offer was announced by the UWA acting Executive Director, Dr. Andre Ggunga Seguya on September 16, 2011 during the Sustainable Tourism Media awards ceremony held at Kampala Serena

Alex Lumu, aged 24, on Thursday reaped from his vast knowledge for wildlife conservation and culture when Uganda Wildlife honoured his offer of a fully paid trip to Lake Mburo National Park in south western Uganda.

The 24 year old who is also an artiste and comedian at various exhibitions, earned his trip following his victorious participation in the Buganda Tourism Expo 2011 which was administered by UWA testing respondents’ interest and knowledge of Ugandan wildlife and Buganda culture.

The Uganda National Farmers Federation has honored Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for its participation and contribution to the agricultural and trade sector in the country, with a certificate of recognition (See below).

Friday 30th September 2011 will be the BIG BIRDING DAY 2011! It is a day when bird watching enthusiasts come together to celebrate Uganda’s famous bird species whose population is said to be one of the highest in Africa. It is the third consecutive year that the day will be celebrated after it was officially launched in October 2010.

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