The Virunga Massif is one of the two known places that host the mountain gorillas, a specie that belong to the Eastern Gorilla. The Virunga gorillas are spread through Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here are 10 Facts that you didn’t probably know about the Virunga Mountain Gorillas;
- Virunga Gorillas Know No Borders
The Virunga gorillas live within the Virunga Massif, a region that stretches through Uganda, Rwanda & Congo. These gorillas know no borders and roam freely within the three countries. This has led to the respective governments to reach an agreement where a habituated gorilla group can be tracked in a different country! Both countries share the revenues from gorilla tracking of the wandering group.
2. Habitat & Protected Areas:
The gorillas live in a mountainous, volcanic region called the Virunga, straddling the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are protected within three national parks; Virunga National Park in DRC, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. You can learn more about these parks from the Virunga Guide, an independent visitor guide to these protected areas.
3. Threats to Gorilla Conservation
The Virunga gorillas have suffered a combination of habitat loss, illegal poaching, disease and civil unrest, bringing the population close to the brink of extinction in the 1970s and 1980s, but conservation is slowly having a positive effect. However there are still threats to their natural habitat – there were plans to drill oil in the region, a move that conservationists fought hard so that the gorillas can be protected.
4. Half of the World’s Mountain Gorillas Live in the Virunga
There are around 880 gorillas living in the wild. The Virunga Region is home to more than half of the world’s remaining population – about 420 gorillas live in the neighboring Bwindi Forest of Southern Uganda. With as much as half of the world’s remaining population living in the Virunga Mountains, the Virunga is one of the best regions where tourists enjoy gorilla trekking while in Africa.
5. Gorilla Tourism Started from the Virunga
Gorilla Tourism was first started from the Virunga National Park, of Congo in the 1970s. This was later introduced to Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. According to the IGCP, mountain gorilla tourism is the most successfull project that has promoted conservation in Africa. The revenues generated from gorilla tourism has been used to do conservation work that is much needed for survival of the great apes.
6. Best Place for Gorilla Tracking
The Virunga Region is the favorite destination for gorilla tracking in the world. There are several habituated gorilla permits that can be visited. In Rwanda, there are 12 groups of gorillas that can be visited by tourists, 1 gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and 6 gorilla groups in the Virunga. Gorilla tours sell fast most especially in the peak months – June – September and December – March. Therefore if you are planning to take a gorilla safari in the Virunga, you should endeavor to book early so that you can avoid last hour disappointments.