Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

It lies in the south western part of Uganda covering an area of 321 Sq. Km at an altitude of 1,160 – 2,607 Km above sea level. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, covers 32,092 ha, and is one of the largest areas in East Africa which still has Afromontane lowland forest extending to well within the montane forest belt. Located on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and believed to be a Pleistocene refugium, the property is a biodiversity hotspot with possibly the greatest number of tree species for its altitude in East Africa. It is also host to a rich fauna including a number of endemic butterflies and one of the richest mammalian assemblages in Africa. Home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, the property represents a conservation frontline as an isolated forest of outstanding biological richness surrounded by an agricultural landscape supporting one of the highest rural population densities in tropical Africa.

Bwindi contains nine globally threatened species: mountain gorilla, common chimpanzee, l’Hoest’s monkey Cercopithecus l’hoesti, endangered species of African elephant, African green broadbill, Grauer’s rush warbler, Chaplin’s flycatcher, African giant swallowtail and cream-banded swallowtail. Buffalo were poached to extinction in the late 1960s, as were leopard more recently.

Attractions.

Mountain Gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are descendants of ancestral monkeys and apes found in Africa and Arabia during the start of the oligocene epoch (34-24 million years ago). The fossil record provides evidence of the hominoid primates (apes) found in east Africa about 18–22 million years ago.

The fossil record of the area where mountain gorillas live is particularly poor and so its evolutionary history is not clear. It was about 9 million years ago that the group of primates that were to evolve into gorillas split from their common ancestor with humans and chimps; this is when the genus Gorilla emerged. It is not certain what this early relative of the gorilla was, but it is traced back to the early ape Proconsul africanus. Mountain gorillas have been isolated from eastern lowland gorillas for about 400,000 years and these two taxa separated from their western counterparts approximately 2 million years ago. There has been considerable and as yet unresolved debate over the classification of mountain gorillas. The genus was first referenced as Troglodytes in 1847, but renamed to Gorilla in 1852. It was not until 1967 that the taxonomist Colin Groves proposed that all gorillas be regarded as one species (Gorilla gorilla) with three sub-species Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorilla), Gorilla gorilla graueri (lowland gorillas found west of the Virungas) and Gorilla gorilla beringei (mountain gorillas including, Gorilla beringei found in the Virungas and Bwindi). In 2003 after a review they were divided into two species (Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei) by The World Conservation Union (IUCN

The gorilla is a shy and, for much of the time, inoffensive, leaf-eating vegetarian— a far cry from the fearsome, aggressive creature depicted in films and comic books. Only when provoked or threatened does it rise to an erect position and beat its cupped hands against its chest in an attempt to intimidate intruders of its territory. They are the largest and most powerful of the apes. Adult males reach an average height of 1.7 m (6 ft.) and weigh from 140 to 275 kg. Females are about 40 to 50% smaller. Both males and females are tremendously powerful, possessing the ability to tear branches from bushes and uproot small trees. They spend their days quietly, either in a leisurely search for food, or resting in the warm sun. Gorillas are native to the equatorial regions of Africa.

 
Bwindi Impenetrable National park has 11 habituated mountain gorilla groups ready to be tracked and one that is available for research. A maximum of eight people are allowed to track each group per day. These groups include per tracking area;
Buhoma- Mubare, Habinyanja and Rushegura.
Ruhija- Bitukura, Oruzogo and the research group Kyaguriro.
Nkuringo – Nkuringo Gorilla group.
Rushaga – Nshongi, Mishaya, Kahungye, Bweza, and Busingye.

Mgahinga National Park.

Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari.

 Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes National Park also referred to as Parc National des Volcanos in French is situated in north-west of Rwanda sharing a boarder with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This protected area is famously known for its mountain gorillas. It also houses five out of eight volcanoes that form the Virunga Highlands. These include; Bisoke, Karisimbi, Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga.

Attractions

Mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are posterities of ancestral monkeys and apes found in Africa and Arabia during the beginning of the oligocene epoch (34-24 million years ago). The fossil record provides evidence of the hominoid primates (apes) found in east Africa about 18–22 million years ago. The fossil record of the area where mountain gorillas live is particularly poor and thus lacks a clear evolutionary history. It was about 9 million years ago that the group of primates that were to evolve into gorillas split from their common ancestor with humans and chimps; this is when the genus Gorilla emerged. Though the early relative of the gorilla is not certain, it is traced back to the early ape Proconsul africanus. Mountain gorillas have been isolated from eastern lowland gorillas for about 400,000 years and these two taxa separated from their western counterparts approximately 2 million years ago. Though the classification of gorillas’ debate has been considerable, it’s yet unresolved. The genus was first referenced as Troglodytes in 1847, but renamed to Gorilla in 1852. It was not until 1967 that the taxonomist Colin Groves proposed that all gorillas be regarded as one species (Gorilla gorilla) with three sub-species Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorilla), Gorilla gorilla graueri (lowland gorillas found west of the Virungas) and Gorilla gorilla beringei (mountain gorillas including, Gorilla beringei found in the Virungas and Bwindi). After the review in 2003, they were divided into two species (Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As a result of this candid research in the Virunga area, one can conclusively say that it has formed a strong base for gorilla tours in the area.