Mountain Gorilla Habituation experience bwindi national park
Mountain gorilla habituation experience is only done in Uganda and its currently being done Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. Habituation is the process of making wild mountain gorillas get used to human presence around them and this is done for a maximum of 4 hours with them in their natural habitat. The habituation of mountain gorillas is done for a period of 2-3 years until the gorillas pass a mocking stage.
Have you wondered how people for gorilla trekking for long hours and come back safely without getting any harm? Well, the trekkers are always first briefed at the pack headquarters and from here they are taught about the dos and don’ts of gorilla trekking as an activity such as keeping a distance of 7 meters away from the primates, keeping voices low, and not using flash cameras to mention but a few.
Mountain gorilla habituation may be a process by which wild mountain gorillas within the wild are slowly and gradually exposed to human presence around them until they pass a mocking stage. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has only two gorilla families that are going under habituation and these are Bishaho and Bikingi in the Rushaga sector.
While mountain gorillas in the forests tend to be very friendly, those that have not gone through habituation are unapproachable considering that they are not used to human presence. They are likely to be dangerous and can harm you to the point of death.
Thankfully, that’s not the case when tracking mountain gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The mountain gorillas in this park have been habituated for 2-3 years and have passed a mocking stage so if you track and be around them they cannot harm you unless if provoked making the gorilla trekking an amazing adventure.
What is done in the mountain gorilla habituation process?
Mountain gorilla habituation takes about 2-3 years to become fully habituated. The process of mountain gorillas is even longer than that of chimpanzees because that of chimpanzees can even take 7 years. Mountain gorilla habituation experience involves spending a maximum of 4 hours with an allocated mountain gorilla family each day and slowly winning over their trust. Researchers impersonate their behavior, pretending to eat the same vegetation as they eat at the same time, grunting, and even beating chests like they do.
Mountain gorilla habituation began well before the idea of charging tourists $700 for a gorilla permit was introduced. The habituation is a vital process for research that allows primatologists to observe behavioral patterns of mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, and other primates.
Concerns about the activity
Some people see the habituation of mountain gorillas as being wrong because subjecting mountain gorillas to human presence everyday hinders with nature by altering their behavioral pattern. They also say that the risk of communicable diseases infection to mountain gorillas has increased because of increased human interaction and making them more disposed to attacks from poachers and non-habituated wild groups.
However, it is widely accepted that gorilla conservation efforts such as the mountain gorilla habituation experience have saved the mountain gorilla from getting vanished by poachers. It has raised these gentle giant’s profiles, and proceeds from this tourism activity help fund the gorilla conservation story.
UWA patrons at the headquarters before the safari expedition begins about the rules and regulations to follow when tracking mountain gorillas to inform the trekkers of how important it is to protect these giant creatures. A well trained ranger is always on hand to ensure that guests enjoy and adhere to the regulations during this activity because he is the one that leads the trekkers to different trials.
Mountain gorillas to get fully used to the presence of human beings around them, every mountain gorilla family undergoes a habituation process of between 2-3 years, managed by a team of expert researchers, conservationists, trackers, and rangers.
Park rangers begin the habituation process by spending a short period of time with the wild mountain gorillas every day, maintaining a distance of 7 meters away from gorillas in their presence but with time they finally increase the time and reduce the distance until they are sure that the mountain gorillas are ready for tourists to visit them.
Although the mountain gorillas don’t seem to be yet fully habituated (the mountain gorillas are accustomed to researchers, rangers and trackers, but not to strangers or tourists) the gorilla habituation experience will help to make sure that they are going to at a time become fully contented in presence of human beings.
Price of gorilla habituation experience
Gorilla habituation in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park costs $1500 per person in Uganda. There are only 8 gorilla habituation permits available per day because only 4 people are allowed to habituate a single gorilla family and there are only 2 families going under habituation. So if you are to visit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park for habituation you are advised to book your permit in advance through a trusted tour operator or Uganda wildlife authority to avoid inconvenience.
Where to stay for gorilla habituation experience
To keep time for briefing about the gorilla habituation experience you have to choose accommodation near Rushaga or Nkuringo sectors of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park where the two gorilla families undergoing habituation live.
Nkuringo sector has got several accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury. The accommodation facilities here include Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge, gorilla heights lodge, clouds mountain gorilla lodge, Bwindi backpackers lodge, Lake Mulehe gorilla lodge, and crested crane Bwindi hotel among others.
Accommodation facilities in Rushaga lodge include Bwindi jungle lodge, gorilla valley lodge, lake Mulehe gorilla lodge, Ichumba lodge, Rushaga gorilla camp, Nshongi camp, Rushaga gorilla haven lodge, Rushaga gorilla resort, and Wagtail eco safari lodge among others.
Mountain gorilla photography
Gorilla habituation experience is the best option for mountain gorilla photography this is because the experience gives you more time with a wild gorilla family to capture the perfect shot.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda which lasts only one hour does not give you enough time to get familiar to the jungle’s lightning ad scenery. Yet photographing mountain gorillas in their setting is a bit difficult due to light conditions and unpredictable distance of 7 meters between you and the endangered mountain gorillas. Given up to 4 hours around mountain gorillas, you have enough time to find the perfect shot for your photos.
However, make sure that you head out to the jungle well prepared with the right camera, lens and charged extra batteries, and make sure that your camera has enough storage space on your memory cards. Bring waterproof bags or cover for your camera just in case it rains the fact that it can rain in Uganda at any time of the day.
You will be asked to keep a distance of 7 meters away from mountain gorillas. A 70-200mm lens is recommended. A 2.8 lens is even better for the poor forest visibility and lighting. Flash photography is not allowed because it can provoke the primates. You will not need your lighting equipment and make sure that your camera flash is disabled because this can make the mountain gorillas charge.
Booking habituation experience
The mountain gorilla habituation experience is one of the newly introduced Uganda safari activities by the Uganda wildlife authority and apparently it is done in the Rushaga sector and Nkuringo sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. the habituation permits can be booked through Uganda wildlife authority or any trusted tour operator.