As with many types of wildlife tourism, viewing gorillas has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Currently tourists can visit more than 20 gorilla...[details]
HOW LONG HAVE TOURISTS BEEN ABLE TO VISIT GORILLAS?
Gorilla tourism was started in Uganda by Walter Baumgärtel, who managed the Travellers Rest Hotel from 1955 until 1969. However, intensive gorilla tourism only started in 1978, when the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda habituated some gorilla groups specifically for tourists. At about the same time gorilla tourism started in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
HOW CAN TOURISM HELP GORILLAS?
The revenue generated by gorilla tourism aims to ensure gorilla conservation. The number of gorillas in the Virungas increased from 261 in 1973 to 324 in 1989 - the tourism project was credited with this positive development. Nowadays, it is possibly to visit the eastern and the western gorillas in several areas.
HOW ARE VISITS TO THE GORILLAS MONITORED?
To prevent harm to the animals, the number of tourists per gorilla group is usually limited to eight people and the duration of the visit is restricted to 1 hour. The considerable amounts of money that are paid for gorilla visits are tempting and can easily result in corruption. Many people make a profit and there is a risk that money is the prime motivation here, not gorilla conservation. Only very strict monitoring by state actors can prevent people ignoring the rules. If the required minimum distance is not adhered to, the risk of transferring diseases is drastically increased. It is up to every individual tourist to help ensure that tourism will benefit and not harm the gorillas.
GORILLA TOURISM - PROS AND CONS
Intensive gorilla tourism was set up in Rwanda in the late 1970s: groups of mountain gorillas were habituated to humans with the specific purpose of taking tourists to visit them. The same procedure was followed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Uganda. To make sure that the animals are not adversely affected by visits, the tourists have to comply with strict rules. The question arises, however, as to whether using the gorillas as a tourist attraction is actually a beneficial protection measure - tourism may also have negative effects on the animals.
A higher degree of safety: the regular presence of people deters poachers.
Better monitoring: regular visits help to record births, deaths and other population changes, to identify health problems in individual gorilla groups and to record illegal activities in the protected areas.
Source of foreign exchange: the considerable income generated from gorilla tourism safeguards the maintenance of the protected areas. The national park authorities benefit from this income, as does anybody who generates income from tourism including, albeit to a smaller degree, the resident population.
Popularity: being charismatic animals, gorillas generate a lot of interest - both from the media and scientists.
Gorillas lose their natural shyness toward people: as a result they raid crops and no longer flee from poachers.
Infectious diseases: diseases can be transferred from humans and domestic animals to gorillas.
Behavioural changes: the presence of humans may generate stress.
Population pressure: an increasing number of people hope to profit from tourism and therefore move closer to the protected areas. People living in the neighbourhood of the gorillas but making little or no profit from tourism are often frustrated and, as a consequence, they may hinder protection measures.
Habituation of too many gorillas: the range countries may become too dependent on gorilla tourism and habituate more and more gorilla groups.
Within national parks habitat is lost for tourist facilities and vegetation is destroyed.
The International Gorilla Conservation Programme has been operating for more than 25 years, and has provided financial and technical support for the...[details]
Two components of gorilla conservation are research and tourism. Research provides the baseline information concerning the natural ecological and...[details]
Scientifically, there are four subspecies of gorillas: Gorilla beringei beringei, Gorilla beringei graueri, Gorilla gorilla gorilla and Gorilla...[details]
The Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (DSPA), located in the southwestern Central African Republic (CAR) and the northern edge of the Congo basin, is...[details]
Mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, live in one of the poorest regions of Africa. This creates a major challenge for...[details]
Mishaya, the leader of the Mishaya group, died on 3 February, 2014 at the age of 28 years after a short illness. Preliminary results indicate that his...[details]
Habituation of wild gorillas has long been a useful tool for research and conservation programs. Decisions to habituate gorillas typically reflect a...[details]
Gorilla tourism and conservation cannot be sustained if it is not supported by fringe communities around the parks. Gorilla ecotourism areas are...[details]
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is located in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the big city of Bukavu on the southern shore of...[details]
The Primate Habituation Programme (PHP) in the Central African Republic is an integral part of the conservation activities of Dzanga-Sangha Protected...
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is listed as Critically Endangered (C1) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature...
Rwanda demonstrates how much the country values its few remaining mountain gorillas. Every year, Kwita Izina is celebrated in June. All mountain...
Uganda, June 2011: After our fascinating hike through the Ruwenzoris and a short safari in the Queen Elizabeth National Park we were looking forward...
Western lowland gorilla tourism exists on a considerably smaller scale than that of the high profile mountain gorillas. Yet the successful habituation...[details]
Mountain gorilla tourism brings much needed revenue to the Virunga National Park for the conservation effort - but it also brings the threat of...[details]
The project "Mountains of the Moon" was founded in the middle of 2008, with the aim of contributing to the protection of species through the...
After the death of the two silverbacks of these gorilla groups on March 26th and May 30th 2009, respectively, several friends of the gorillas of the...
Following the widely perceived success of mountain gorilla tourism, there has been increasing interest in developing tourism based on the observation...[details]
Since 1999, a long-term survey of gorillas and chimpanzees has been conducted by Kyoto University in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon. The...[details]
The behaviour of free-ranging chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) has been studied in the Taï National Park in Côte d'Ivoire since 1979. Three communities...