Great news for gorillas and the humans that adore them: The latest wildlife census determined that Uganda’s mountain gorilla population has increased from 400 (in 2011) to 459 (in 2018), bringing the total global wild population to 1,063 individuals.
Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, together with the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, revealed that the number of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the multinational protected forest has also increased.
Undertaken in December of 2018, the census found that Bwindi Impenetrable National Park had 459 mountain gorillas in 50 groups. The count also included 13 solitary individuals.
When combined with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda retained its position as home to over 50% of the world’s total population of mountain gorillas, a further boost to gorilla tourism for an East African nation commonly known as the Pearl of Africa.
The survey was conducted by the Protected Area Authorities of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the Uganda Wildlife Authority and l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, respectively) under the framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration with support from Rwanda Development Board and many other partners and donors.
A joint press statement released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International, and the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) revealed that the fifth population count for this area also included Sarambwe Nature Reserve for the first time.
The census also discovered that the number of gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park had increased from 36 families in 2011 to 50 in 2018 — 18 of them open for tourism.
Together with a 2016 census of the Virunga Massif — which confirmed a total of 604 gorillas dispersed across 41 families in DRC’s Virunga National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park — the Uganda increase reflects a huge success story for global mountain gorilla conservation.
“I participated in the first gorilla census in 1998 when we counted 300 gorillas,” Dr Gladys Zikusoka recalled when discussing the survey with the Adventure Consults team. “And now . . . we have counted 459 gorillas after 20 years, together with the 604 gorillas from the Virunga Massif. That brings the global number to 1,063! Glad that the numbers, though still very few, are steadily increasing.”
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