Uganda: Gorillas Fight for Survival

by Aug 9, 2010Great Apes

Bwindi — Uganda has crept back into our consciousness lately with synchronized bomb attacks that took the lives of 76 people in the nation’s capital Kampala during the World Cup festivities.

When we were last in Kampala, we set out to learn more about the desperate fight for the survival of mountain gorillas.

With a dwindling population of 700, they have been victims of poaching, disease, war, civil unrest, slaughter and displacement.

Under pressure from rebel factions in Uganda and the DRC who massacred gorillas because the conservationists were “getting on their nerves,” our guide tracks the remaining apes — by armpit stench and dung to keep tabs on their health.

We traveled to the remote jungle area known as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the southwestern part of Uganda, bordering with Rwanda and the DRC, areas plagued with dictatorships, genocide and decades of civil and national wars.

Ten years earlier, eight park visitors had been abducted and then murdered by a group of Rwandan armed rebels in an effort to destabilize the region.

The drive from Kampala was harrowing. Our driver sped and swerved obsessively, overtaking anyone in his path despite on-coming traffic.

We witnessed three traffic accidents, two fatalities and an adventurous couple having sex in the middle of a dark mountain road after midnight.

With four guards armed with machetes and rifles, two advance gorilla trackers, and our guide Levi we ventured into the dense tropical rainforest that is home to roughly half of the 700 remaining mountain gorillas in the world.

Here we encountered the gentle beasts and found out more about their plight.