Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:09
Tourists will have more gorillas to track after another family of primates was recently declared ready for viewing. The Nshongi family, which has been habituated (being made to get used to people) for the last two years, is now open to tourists.
This gorilla family is in Rushaga, Kisoro district in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP). It is the biggest family with 34 members, three of them silverbacks.
Nshongi brings the total of habituated families to seven. The others are Mubare, Habiyanja, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Rushegura and Kyaguril. Only five are however open for tourism. Rushegura shifted to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kyagurilo is only open to researchers.
Uganda last year earned Shs 6.6 billion from the sale of gorilla permits alone –accounting for 50.4% revenue for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
According to UWA, the figures are bound to rise this year to Shs10 billion with the addition of Nshongi.
“There has been a chronic shortage of permits. Only 7.3% of the total number of tourists coming to Uganda have a chance to view gorillas. We expect the gorilla business to boom,” said Lillian Nsubuga, the Public Relations manager, UWA.
Uganda accounts for almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Out of an estimated 720 mountain gorillas, 340 are found in the jungles of Bwindi which is said to have about 32 families.
But there has been public outcry over few permits. Only eight people are allowed to track each family.
UWA recently revised it tariffs to attract more people into parks. Under the revised tariffs, foreigners residing in Uganda and East Africa pay $475 from $500. Non-resident foreigner will continue to pay $500.
East Africans will now pay Shs250,000 down from the previous $475. The arrangement has however disadvantaged Ugandans who are now categorised as East Africans. They previous paid Shs150, 000.