Gorilla Knowledge – Southern Sector Bwindi

THE NKURINGO MOUNTAIN GORILLAS

Gorilla tourism started in Nkuringo in April 2004 after the habituation of the group that started in 1996. The group ranges the Kashasha river valley below the Nteko ridge and was often to be found foraging in close proximity to the indigenous populations outside the park. This was regarded as being detrimental to the health and well being of the animals as they were becoming predomitory crop raiders devastating banana plantations and feeding on eucalyptus and sweet potato.

Rangers from the Human Gorilla Conflict Force were tasked to chase the group back int the park on an all too regular basis. It was decided in the best interests of both the animals and villagers well being that the International Gorilla Conservation Programme purchase a 12km long and 350m wide strip of public land along the river to create a buffer zone adjacent the national park where planned land usage would not be appealing to the gorillas encouraging them to remain within the park. The land purchase has not completely solved the problem as the gorillas have ranged more than 1km out of the park as villagers farms moved back out of what was the new buffer zone.

The Nkuringo group in early 2008 was made up of 18 gorillas however one of the silverbacks in the group and longest surviving of these named Nkuringo died at what was an estimated age of 49 years on 27th April 2008.

Kwitonda gave birth to twins on 1st November 2008 one of which passed away at 2 years. In November 2009 came the exciting development of a yet another baby being born to Mama Xmas named Kiiza. The group currently includes 16 animals after the loss of one of the twins and the silverback Bahati leaving the group in July 2011: Bahati went ahead as started his own family of Gorillas, which is the today Bushaho Gorilla family and Christmas, who was mama Xmas’s baby in 2009 is leading his own family of Gorillas called Christmas group – all tracked from Nkuringo Headquarters.

THE RUSHAGA MOUNTAIN GORILLAS

Gorilla tourism started at Rushaga some 17 km from our Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge in April 2009.  The habituation of the group had started only 2 years earlier where very quickly this the largest group ever habituated by Uganda Wildlife Authority and led by the alpha male Nshongi provided opportunity for the first tourist visits in April 2009. The official opening of the group was celebrated in September 2009 with an all star list of celebrity visitors and festivities in the locality of Rushaga and at UWA headquarters in Kampala. Visitors to these groups are welcomed at the Rushaga visitors centre within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where they report on the morning of tracking for breifing before being guided into the forest by professional trackers and guide.

The Nshongi group split in 2010 where the sub-ordinate silverback Mishaya separated taking females and infants to establish his own group of 13 gorillas.

Another Alpha male Bweza also went ahead to spilt from the Nshongi group to start his own group The Bweza group.

The Kahungye group is located on the south side of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and tracked from the Rushaga visitors centre. The groups feeding territory stretches from the edge of the forest close to the town of Rubuguri and overlaps with that of Mishaya and the Nkuringo group.

The group at this time comprises 28 gorillas where there are 3 Silverbacks within the group. The group appeared to be on the verge of splitting into two group where the sub-ordinate gorilla to the Alpha Male also has his own family The Busingye group within this larger unit. The two groups are often found feeding together as one unit every now and then.

Kahungye/Busingye groups

GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE

Introduced in 2015 and available for a very limited duration of only 2-3 years is the gorilla habituation experience in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Another new group is under observation and once the Bikingye family is fully habituated this will be opened for the Habituation Experience. In order to become habituated to the presence of tourists, each gorilla group has undergone an extremely delicate process, lasting around five years, gradually getting accustomed to the presence of humans. Park rangers start off by spending a short period of time with the gorillas every day, at a certain distance that represents the limit of the gorillas’ comfort zone. As the years go by, they gradually increase the time and reduce the distance until they deem the gorillas ready for paying clients to visit them.   The gorilla habituation experience for the first time allows paying clients to participate in this process. It is limited to two gorilla families in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Bikingye and Bushaho, in the Rushaga sector of the park. Due to the steep terrain, dense vegetation and high altitudes a high level of fitness is required.

Stunning eye catching birds in Bwindi Impenetrable National park that live Birders craving for more

Bwindi is 321-km2 national park is located in the southwestern corner of the country near the boarder with the Democratic republic of Congo. It is a mysterious and superb birding site for any birder visiting Uganda. This park is a biodiversity hotspot and is home to over 320 species of birds, including most of the Uganda’s rare species.

This destination allows Birding enthusiast to experience a moment of up the sky with the sweet melodies from the colored birds all over. These are some of them of which 23 are endemic to these particular areas of the Albertine Rift.

The birdlife in Bwindi is good year-round, but at its best in March and September. June and July have the least rain while March to mid-May has the most. Heavy rains might result in delays due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails, which can limit your bird watching time. The main nesting season is in May and June, with food being abundant from late May through September. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

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