Two New Baby Gorillas Born in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park During Lockdown
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park situated in southwestern Uganda received 2 New baby gorillas ahead of mother’s day. The two mountain gorilla babies are born to the Nshongi gorilla family on the 1st May 2020 and Muyambi gorilla family on the 25th April 2020. This news has caused joy to these gorilla families and to the conservationists as well. The Nshongi gorilla family baby belongs to Kabagyenyi (mother) and Silverback Bweza. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Muyambi gorilla family baby parents are yet to be established. The sexes of the babies are not yet known because it’s hard to get close to a new gorilla baby a few days after its birth because it is jealously guarded by its family.
Nshongi gorilla family was the first family to be habituated in Rushaga with about 35 individuals however, they split with time. As of today, the gorilla family has over 25 individuals and it is still the largest gorilla family. Kabagyenyi, the baby’s mother, was not a family member originally, she joined the group as a sub-adult. She is estimated to be around 10 years and this is her firstborn child.
Nshongi gorilla family derives its name from the Nshongi River where it lives. Nshongi was got from a local word called “Omushongi Gwobwoki ” meaning honey. The waters of river Nshongi have a deep colour similar to that of honey. The gorilla family was habituated in 2007 and opened for gorilla trekking in 2009. The gorilla family is led by Nshongi, the dominant silverback who has seen this group survive up to the present.
Nshongi Family Members:
Each member was named depending on where it was born from, the then situation and who named it. Also, each family member plays a different role. The silverback guards and leads the family, adult females nurse babies, while juveniles play continuously to keep the family life and entertaining.
Muyambi group is the newest group that was opened up for gorilla trekking in Uganda in 2019. Muyambi was an adult male gorilla from the Mubare gorilla family but split. When it split away from this group, it formed its own hence the name.
“The birth of these new babies is a testimony to Uganda’s successful conservation efforts. With enhanced integrity of protected areas here has been a general increase in wildlife populations in Uganda,” UWA says. The recently concluded census in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park indicated that the park has over 459 individuals.
Mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif started at 604 shared between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo bringing the number to a total of 1063. Uganda is home to over 50% of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population that live in Bwindi Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
About Gorilla Trekking in Uganda | Gorilla Safari Tours in Uganda
Uganda, Congo and Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris, chimpanzee trekking safaris, and golden monkey’s tours among other primates have been put on hold until the coronavirus pandemic recedes. This precautious move comes as the countries monitor the containment of the spread of COVID-19 and its implications to wildlife conservation and tourism in the protected areas.
However, gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda start at 8:00 am every morning. Uganda gorilla safaris last between 30 minutes to several hours depending on where gorillas are located that day. Each day, the gorilla family is visited by a group of eight people for an hour. A gorilla trekking permit in Uganda will cost $700 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African residents.
To go for gorilla trekking in Uganda, you are required to dress up appropriately. This includes hiking boots/shoes, rain jacket, long pants, long-sleeved shirts/blouses, sunglasses, hat, and gardening gloves among others.
A walking stick and porter are very helpful. Also, remember to carry enough drinking water and energy-giving snacks.
Reproduction in Mountain Gorillas
Female mountain gorillas on average begin to reproduction at the age of 10. Just like it is in humans, female gorillas are able to carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after an 8.5-month gestation period; quite similar to the 9-month’s human pregnancy.
Mountain gorilla mothers will bear between two to six offspring in a lifetime. The newborns are always tiny, weighing about four pounds and are only able to cling to their mothers’ fur. The infants always ride on their mom’s backs from the age of four months through the first two or three years of their lives.