Gorilla Habituation

Gorilla habituation is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can ever have for your African primate safari. Mountain gorilla habituation was initially not a visitor activity; it was done by a professional researcher and it was research rather than an activity. However, a letter on mountain gorilla habituation was added onto the list for the visitor activities in Bwindi impenetrable national park by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Through the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA), mountain gorilla habituation experience was introduced to all interested clients; this was made effective from 1st January 2014. All those interested in the gorilla habituation experience pay USD1500 per person. Mountain gorilla habituation experience will offer a chance to spend about four hours with these animals in a natural setting of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The gorilla habituation activity is an adventure that gives travelers greater opportunity to learn and know more about the different behavioral patterns of the mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park. 

Gorilla Habituation

Uganda is blessed with over 450 mountain gorillas that live in Bwindi impenetrable forest. Bwindi impenetrable national park holds over half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable national park live in the four major sectors in the park which include; Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo sector, and Rushaga sector. However, according to Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) only two mountain gorilla families are put aside and left for habituation experience in the Rushaga sector within Bwindi impenetrable national park.

Gorilla habituation process

The mountain gorilla habituation process is somewhat a research activity done by real researchers; the mountain gorilla habituation can also be enjoyed by six lucky travelers to Bwindi impenetrable national park. Mountain gorilla habituation process in Uganda is an exercise done by a little group of equipped researchers. The researchers who carry out the mountain gorilla habituation in Bwindi impenetrable national park are supervised under the department of research and monitoring, which is also under the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA). 

The process of mountain gorilla habituation, however, can be some time-consuming activity that takes about two to three years in order for a particular mountain gorilla family to be completed and ready for visitors. It is only Uganda and Rwanda that you can find reasonable habituated mountain gorilla families, unlike the democratic republic of congo. If at all you want a memorable mountain gorilla trekking experience Bwindi is recommendable, however rwanda also got some habituated mountain gorilla families ready to be visited.

The mountain gorilla habituation exercise involves trekking a selected family of wild gorillas; not familiar with humans. This exercise is done for more than one day, for a time period of about 3 to 4 years, until the selected mountain gorilla family under research is finally used and familiar to human encounters. As the mountain gorilla habituation process goes on, the different members of a mountain gorilla family, under study, are given identity basing on their gender or sex, and age or size. However, as time goes on, the mountain gorillas are given names to identify them from one another; the naming process happens at the climax of the habituation process. 

The habituation process is finally concluded after a time of about three to four years. This is when the researchers, who have been carrying out the gorilla habituation process, are finally confident and convinced enough that the mountain gorilla family, under study, is ready to be visited by the visitors. However, the researchers continue to make surprise trips to the newly habituated mountain gorilla family for about 6 to 8 months, and if this gorilla family shows no resistance to humans with in the 6 months of trial, then the family can be opened for the purpose of tourism to the whole world.

In Bwindi impenetrable national park, over 12 mountain gorilla groups and families have been habituated, since 1993, for tourism and research. Mubare gorilla family is the first group that was habituated, and it also opened a door to the world for mountain gorilla tourism in Bwindi impenetrable national park, and Uganda at large. Mubare mountain gorilla family is also the first gorilla group that was trekked by tourists in Uganda. However, Mubare mountain gorilla family later created a way for other families to be habituated with in Bwindi impenetrable national park. 

In Buhoma sector in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park, has two more mountain gorilla families which were habituated and added to mubare, they include rushegura; it is the nearest mountain gorilla family and in most cases, it moves closest to the Bwindi impenetrable national park headquarters. The other habituated group in the buhoma sector is the habinyanja mountain family. Within the eastern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park there are 3 mountain gorilla families which are habituated including; bitukura gorilla group, oruzogo gorilla group, and kyaguriro gorilla family which is dedicated for research. 

The southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park has gone through a lot of changes as many habituated mountain gorilla families have been split up, and new families sprung up. Despite, rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park, in total, has nshongi mountain gorilla family, mishaya mountain gorilla family, busingye mountain gorilla family, kahungye mountain gorilla family and bweza mountain gorilla family. And lastly, the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park has one major habituated gorilla family and its name is derived from the sector itself, nkuringo mountain gorilla group.

Gorilla Habituation
Gorilla Habituation

Mountain gorilla habituation rules and regulations

Just like other activities in Bwindi impenetrable national park, like mountain gorilla trekking, mountain gorilla habituation has to be done under specific rules and regulations, they include the following;

  • Always following the guides and rangers instructions; the rangers in Bwindi impenetrable national park are well conversant about the forest and the behavior of mountain gorillas, therefore hearkening to what they tell you might make you enjoy the mountain gorilla habituation experience more.
  • It is good to stay in groups as this will avoid you from getting lost or even be attacked by the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorilla habituation process is done by a maximum of 6 people for four hours; always stay with the group to enjoy the experience.
  • Always remember to keep your voices low while in the forest for mountain gorilla habituation in Bwindi impenetrable national park. The noise might spark off violence for some gorillas which can attack you and end up spoiling your habituation experience.
  • You always endeavor to keep a safe distance of at least 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas. This is for your protection since the mountain gorilla family under study is still wild; you do not to get so close for safety reasons.
  • Do not make a mistake of imitating the mountain gorilla habits, like when the silverback confronts your and charges in front of you. Imitating the mountain gorillas during the habituation process might win you a fight with one of them.
  • Remember not to use flash photography if at all you want to take good mountain gorilla photographs. The flash photographs can interfere with the behavioral patterns for the mountain gorilla; therefore, take you flash off or do not take any photographs while trekking the mountain gorillas.
  • You are excused from engaging into the mountain gorilla habituation experience while sick, the mountain gorillas can easily catch contagious ailments of humans like cough and flu. This rule is much attributed to the conservation goals for mountain gorillas, so by abiding to this rule, you are actually taking part in conserving the mountain gorillas in Bwindi.
  • Remember that some areas in Bwindi impenetrable national park are on a high altitude than others and also hiking for a particular mountain gorilla family takes a long time. Therefore, trek for mountain gorillas only when you are well and physically fit.
  • The persons under the age of 15 years are considered to be young and therefore not allowed to join in on either mountain gorilla trekking or habituation in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Also, remember to book for accommodation facilities in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park.
book a safari