Original source: Mrs Anchelon
Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, bordering with the Congo and Rwanda, is home to half of the remaining mountain gorilla population. These magnificent creatures are close relatives of ours (DNA differing only 1.75%), nonetheless we’ve put them on the brink of extinction.
Their kingdom is surrounded by some of the most densely populated rural areas of the world and their habitat is threatened by poaching, human diseases and habitat destruction. There are approximately 700-800 mountain gorillas left, I bet most of you have more friends on Facebook.
To complete the paradox, humans are the only reason the gorillas still exist. A big tribute to Dian Fossey, initiating the protection in an area and time where and when even humans lacked protection. At US$600 (discounted to US$ 350 during low season) the permits for visiting the gorillas are expensive and sure the hike might be a struggle, but the effort is worth it and the money will be spent well! The income revenues enable the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) to protect and maintain the gorilla population. Nowadays the expensive permits and the persuaded tourists are the sole reason the remaining gorillas are not left to their unfortunate future.
We were lucky (although it’s a mere choice) enough to spend one hour with these amazing wild but habituated (i.e. they’re made familiar with human presence) animals. The feeling you get when encountering a 35 year old silverback is indescribable. Only 7 meters away sits a human-resembling animal that is eight times stronger than a heavyweight boxer. Not bothered by your presence, his vibe will give you the feeling that you are a welcome visitor into his domain, though you WILL stay humble. No bars, no glass. Being a visitor on the steep hills of Bwindi is nothing like visiting the zoo.
For us, visiting the gorillas was the absolute highlight of our trip. And to be honest not only the highlight of our trip, but one of the most special and rewarding things we have ever done.Taking a peek in the lives and habitat of these wonderful but threatened creatures made us feel both extremely grateful and sad at the same time. It left us wondering, while wandering through the dense forest, why they are put on the very edge of their existence. Doesn’t something this beautiful deserve to be on this planet until the end of time?
If you ever get the chance (or again, decide) to visit a group of mountain gorillas, the feeling you get when you enter their Kingdom will most definately be worth the hassle! We left Bwindi with the request of the UWA to spread the word about how much the future and fate of the mountain gorilla is dependant on tourism. On that same note, passing on the message, we’d like to end. For our future generations should also be given the chance to see the gorillas’ soul through those eyes that resemble ours, having their souls touched by the black-furred soul, just like it did with us.
This is something we’ll never forget!