In an effort to help conservationists understand population dynamics of the gorillas, assess the success of conservation programmes aimed at ensuring their survival, and ensure that they receive continued attention from the global conservation community; Uganda Wildlife Authority together with partners is carrying out a gorilla census in Bwindi National Park.
This is the fourth time the census is being carried out in Bwind which is also a UNESCO designated world heritage site. The first time the Census was carried out, in 1997, it was estimated that there were 300 individual gorillas.
The 2011 Gorilla census that began in September is expected to end by October 22nd and besides finding out the population of the endangered Mountain Gorillas, the team in charge of the census is also collecting information on the status of other wildlife like Elephants, Bush Pigs, Monkeys and Duikers, they are also taking records of evidence of illegal activities that affect the flora and fauna.
The methods used in this year’s exercise include the indirect sweep method where gorilla nests are counted and the fecal method where faeces of these gorillas in the nests are collected and later will be analyzed in the laboratory to identify DNA samples of each individual. The fecal method, although tedious and time consuming is expected to yield more accurate results than the previous method of counting only the night sleeping nests made by Gorillas.
Some of the partners Uganda Wildlife Authority is working with to make this census is a success include the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), a coalition of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Fauna & Flora International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, Max Planck Institute, Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation among other conservation agencies in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.