Humans maybe the smartest primates on the planet, but they are not the largest. This tag goes to the mountain gorillas.

Embark on a quest to meet mountain Gorillas the worlds most endangered species while in Africa

Humans maybe the smartest primates on the planet, but they are not the largest. This tag goes to the mountain gorillas. These animals are huge and ferocious. They have killed several humans who crossed their path and this has largely formed the relationship between them and humans. An American zoologist, one Dian Fossey, is perhaps the most recognized name in championing the conservation of the animals. However, after he was killed in Rwanda in 1985, the animals were left to fend for themselves which led to their numbers dwindling to a low of 300. However, the governments of the Great Lakes Region in Eastern Africa have taken conservation measures that have seen the mountain gorillas’ numbers rise to about 880.

The mountain gorillas are found in two populations. The first population of about 550 is found on the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Amazingly, the three countries have 3 different National parks with similar ecosystem but under different jurisdictions. The Mgahinga National Park is located in south western Uganda, the Virunga National Park is located in the DRC and Volcanoes National Park is located in Rwanda. The second population of 300 gorillas is located in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

The Gorilas live in highly structured family with a dominant male as the leader of the family. Once a dominant male is challenged by another male within the group, the male that challenges steals a few females from the dominant male and then breaks off to start its family. This is how the 8 popular gorilla families emerged. Tracking safaris are offered by registered tour guides in Rwanda. Some of the gorilla families that tourist engage in tracking include; Susa which has 42 members and is the hardest to track, Sabyinyo, Amahoro with 17 members, Group 13 with 25 members, Kwitoda with 18 members, Umubano with 11 members, Hirwa which is a break away from Group 13 and Sabyinyo, and Karisimbi with 15 members.

Note that to be part of the Gorilla tracking tours, you will need a permit. In Rwanda’s Volcanic National Park, the permit goes for US$750; In Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park it goes for US$500; and in DRC’s Virunga National Park it goes for US$400.

Touring this region is quite easy for tourists. Rwanda and Uganda are in the larger East Africa Community and you are required to have just one visa to travel in both countries. In a bid to boost their tourist numbers, the 3 countries just require an official letter from a tourist from the DRC to tour the 3 National Parks.

Tourists to this region are advised to take anti-malaria tablets. If you want to camp in the wild rather than stay in a hotel, you will also need a mosquito net. The scenic views and wild tropical vegetation will give you the ultimate hiking challenge. Overall, meeting the mountain gorillas will be an enjoyable experience. What more, the entry fees you pay upon entry into the national parks will go a long way in helping the three governments conserve the magnificent primates.

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