Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
There is concern about the fate of a few gorillas that might seem misplaced in the context of a genocide that claimed about a million human lives. These very gorillas have allowed Rwanda to rebuild the lucrative tourist industry that was shattered by the war. The activity of gorilla tracking resumed on a permanent basis in July 1999 and the volcanoes national park has remained open ever since a period during which the volume of permits sold annually has increased more. The mountain gorillas do bring tourists to Rwanda but once there, they will usually spend money in other parts of the country and provides foreign revenue creating employment beyond the immediate vicinity of volcanoes national park.
The land of a thousand hills ranks among the world’s most exciting emergent eco-tourism destinations. A few would have expected it 20 years ago, when a long-simmering civil war erupted into a tragic genocide in which up to a million people died. After two decades of subsequent political stability, have seen the country emerge as one of the most economically vibrant and socially progressive countries in Africa.
Possibly the most exciting and moving wildlife encounter you will ever experience is gorilla tracking/trekking. This activity starts with a tense ascent through a fertile volcanic slopes dense with cultivation, into a hushed montane forest. The republic of Rwanda is one of the world’s premier gorilla trekking safari destination though there is much to see besides the endangered mountain gorillas. There is a mountain- ringed inland sea that is lake Kivu; the immerse Nyungwe Forest National park with its chimpanzees, monkeys and all the rare birds; wild Savannah of Akagera National park. There is an endless succession of the steep cultivated mountains that have justifiably earned Rwanda the nickname of the “land of a thousand hills”. Some visitors and tourists do query the wisdom of habituating gorillas for tourists visits.
When you going to track gorillas, one of the area of concern is health with the humans and the gorillas which are being sufficiently close genetically. There are risks of passing a viral or bacterial infection to a habituated gorilla which might turn affect a real risk of passing a viral bacterial infection to a habituated gorilla group. This might also turn to infect other members of its group potentially resulting in all their deaths and should have no resistance to the infection. Also to be considered is the concern of habituating gorillas to the humans to increase their vulnerability to the poachers. A theory backed up by the fact that most mountain gorillas poached since the mid 1990s and these belonged to the habituated groups.
From the above, a reasonable response might arise to query the wisdom of habituating the endangered mountain gorillas. Some things to be considered are the challenges facing the conservationists that the gorillas cannot be conserved in a vacuum. AT the current prices, the Rwandan authorities can potentially earn approximately US $ 48,000 daily in tracking the permits only. However much of this money is pumped back into the protection and the management of the volcanoes park and sometimes distributed to the local communities bordering the park. There are also the broader benefits or job creation through tourism in and around the Virungas and even in terms of pure conservation habituation has many of the positive effects and this allows many researchers and rangers to monitor the gorillas on a daily basis to intervene when one of then is ill or injured.
For tourism is the integral to the survival of the endangered mountain gorilla. The survival of these endangered apes is certainly very integral to the growth of Rwanda’s tourist industry. Ultimately, it is a symbiotic situation that motivates a far greater number of people to take an active interest in the fate of the gorillas than would be the case if gorilla tourism were to be curtailed.