JUST IN: Uganda releases 2018 census results for the Bwindi Population. The number of mountain gorilla individuals and families increases.
Uganda's Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities together with the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration revealed that the number of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the 340 square transboundary protected forest have increased.
The much-anticipated event was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel, attended by ambassadors, representatives from stakeholders in the tourism sector, conservation, and the media.
The Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu confirmed that as per the December 2018 census in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda had a record 459 mountain gorillas counted in 50 groups; with 13 solitary individuals.
Prof. Kamuntu added that when combined with her sister, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda still retains its position as home to at least 51% of the world's total population of mountain gorillas, a further boost to gorilla tourism in this East African nation.
The survey was conducted by the Protected Area Authorities of Uganda and DRC (Uganda Wildlife Authority and l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, respectively) under the framework of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration with support from Rwanda Development Board and many other partners and donors.
A joint press statement released at the end of the event by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Fauna & Fora International, Conservation International, and International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) revealed that this was the fifth population count for this area, and the first to include Sarambwe Nature Reserve.
"Slowly but surely a solid future for mountain gorillas is emerging proving that long-term collaborative conservation efforts can pull species back from the brink of extinction", the statement read in part.
Speaking at the ceremony, Uganda's Minister of Tourism added that the number of gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park had also increased from 36 families in 2011 to 50 gorilla groups in 2018; leading the Virunga massif, whose gorilla groups stand at 41 families according to the latest census results of mountain gorillas living in the Virunga.
"It's not just the biggest population of gorillas that we have. We also have about 11% of the world's bird species, all of Africa's big five safari animals, a huge population of chimpanzees, excellent weather, the source of the world's longest river, a happy and fascinating people and more. Uganda continues to reaffirm itself as a leading holiday destination," Minister Kamuntu said at the event.
Following the 2016 census in the Virunga massif, which confirmed a total of 604 gorillas in DR Congo’s Virunga, Rwanda’s Volcanoes and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park combined, this new number, confirmed by Uganda, presents an even greater success story for mountain gorilla conservation around the world.
The global population of mountain gorillas now stands at 1,063 individuals.
Last year the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified the mountain gorilla from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
On behalf of all tour operators in Uganda, we commend the combined effort of conservation organizations in protecting this special species, more particularly the Uganda Wildlife Authority for conserving for generations and Uganda’s visitors who through participating in the various activities, support conservation.