Commonly known as mountain gorillas is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. They are so endangered and there are only two populations. One is found in Virunga National Parks and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south-west Uganda.
The other population is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within two National Parks; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Read More Things to Know About Mountain Gorillas
Uganda’s dense tropical rainforests are home to over half of the remaining population of the mountain gorillas. The number of mountain gorillas remaining in the world is estimated to be around 900 individuals living in the Virunga Mountains and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity and their preservation from extinction is within the four gazetted gorilla parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The conservation of these great apes in their fragile habitats is essential for their survival.
Several countries have embraced gorilla tourism and today gorilla tracking is the most important tourism activity that brings tourists to Uganda and Rwanda.
The word gorilla comes from the Greek word gorillai – meaning hairly women. Sharing over 98% of the DNA with humans, gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback – a mature male who selects places for the group to eat and sleep and has many previleges including the right to feed first. This previlege pays off the rest of the family, as the group is threatened, the silverback which weighs up to 120kg (260lbs) will defend the group to death if necessary.
Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species and it is very peaceful unless when provoked. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.
Places Where to See Mountain Gorillas
- Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – an IUCN world heritage site in South Western Uganda home to nearly half of the world’s remaining population of the mountain gorillas.
- Mgahinga National Park – the Ugandan part of the Virunga Region.
Other Places Outside Uganda
These parks are of great importance and worthy mentioning
- Virunga National Park in the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Volcanoes National Park – the Rwandan part of the Virunga Region.
Currently a gorilla permit costs USD600 per person for a day. If you are looking to double gorilla tracking you have to pay twice and you will need two gorilla permits. Gorilla permits can be booked through a local tour operator or at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices.