Results of the Virunga Mountain Gorilla census have been released today putting the figure at 604, from 480 individuals in 2010. The results show that the total population of Mountain Gorillas has surpassed the 1000 mark. The other place where mountain gorillas are found is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Southwest Uganda. According to the 2011 census, Bwindi has over 400 individuals. A new census is underway in Bwindi, to establish the current population of the gorillas in the National Park. Download this document for more details.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has partnered with local lodges, operators (Friends of Queen Elizabeth National Park) and the USAID-STAR program to promote an innovative new traveler experience, The Hippo Census, which took place in February and March. The idea originated with QENP park wardens who suggested a program where visitors can be involved in real conservation efforts by helping count hippo populations alongside the rangers and research/monitoring wardens. 28 seats were available and all the fees collected directly supported the hippo census activity.
In other places this activity is called “citizen science”, but in QENP they refer to it as “experiential tourism”. These activities give visitors a behind the scenes look at how research is helping conserve biodiversity and monitor ecosystem health in QENP.
Video is courtesy of Jennier Krauser, a destination development and community tourism specialist working with the USAID-STAR program in Uganda.
The UWA asked USAID-STAR to help their team develop a product around the Hippo Census and a marketing strategy that UWA could use as a guide for this and future Hippo Census’, as well as other experiential tourism activities like lion and mongoose tracking. UWA and USAID-STAR also developed a short film that generated further interest about the activity.