Gorilla habituation is the process of making gorillas families accustomed to the presence of humans so as to facilitate the interaction without causing danger of displaying aggressive behaviour of even attacking in self protection. Mountain gorillas like any other wild animals living in the jungle but very senses to the presence of strangers so causing them to flee further into the forest. In Bwindi forest Uganda Mountain gorilla habituation gives you a chance to spend some time with the gorillas. A normal gorilla trekking experience lasts only one hour in there presence but mountain gorilla habituation lasts more and patience is highly recommended.
Gorilla habituation also leads to the formation of gorilla tracking families and only 8 gorilla permits are issued each day for a particular gorilla group. Although gorillas are known to be serene primates, when disturbed, they get agitated and at worst become aggressive.
Because of the continuous depletion of the gorillas’ natural habitats through human encroachment on land and setting snares by hunting, the Uganda Wildlife Authority in conjunction with UNESCO felt it right to conserve the mountain gorillas but making sure the locals reap from this move. Natives in Bwindi work as porters hired at a small fee, they sell local crafts, Own accommodation facilities and several other benefits that they gain from the presence of mountain gorillas.
After the introduction of ecological awareness, tourism has created a number of approaches that will help conserve the existence of mountain gorillas and introduce sustainable financial assistance for local communities close to Bwindi impenetrable rain forests in south western Uganda.
At the moment Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the leading safari product for Uganda. A number of beneficiaries of this great Uganda tourism product preserve this as the greatest income earner especially for the evicted Batwa pygmies whose life depended on the forest until 1991 when they were evicted from their ancestral land where they co-existed with the mountain gorillas.
Gorilla habituation is done by professional but not an easy step which at times take over 2 years. This process requires having great experience on mountain gorillas, expertise in the field, and a lot of patience.
The habituation of group mountain gorillas requires the consistent contact with the great apes within the forest. Every day, Peter travels to the mountain gorilla habitats in Bwindi with several rangers. They track the gorillas, sit down with them and follows them as they try to flee from the rangers and him. This first phase of the process has long hikes through the woods, through deep valleys, and over high hills to follow. Permanently, the mountain gorillas are confronted with a human face, Peter does not give them peace until one day the gorillas reach the point where they change their behaviour: they attack.
The constant interference with the humans and them following the gorillas through the rain forest is too much, the mountain gorillas change their minds and attack their pursuers with feints and loud cries. If it comes in the process of these attacks to physical attacks, then the rangers can give Peter a helping hand, preventing injuries on both sides.
Finally, in the last step of mountain gorilla habituation, the animals accept the presence of the people: they no longer get bothered by the humans’ presence and keep doing their daily business. Getting to this point often takes several months and sometimes years – depending on how responsive the group’s leading male silverback is to the people. Even if a gorilla group is used to the presence of this group of rangers now, mountain gorilla trekking for this group is still far from now. This is because the gorillas accept the people known to them, but strangers still cause anxiety. In small groups including about two or three other visitors, they are faced with changing faces that keep coming up with the rangers in the forest. Only when the gorillas have also accepted this condition they are ready for the larger groups of visitors. Up to eight tourists are allowed to visit any habituated mountain gorilla group in Bwindi Impenetrable Rain Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in one day.
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