The Ugandan government has confirmed that it will maintain the $600 fee per person for gorilla permits and promises that there will be no price increase in Uganda.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority today announced that there will be no price increase in Uganda for a minimum of 12 months. Gorilla tracking charges will thus be maintained at $ 600 per person in peak season and $ 450 in low season.
In Uganda, sustainable gorilla tourism is a major contributor to the protection of these rare and endangered animals. Revenues from gorilla permits help to preserve the habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas. Through tourism, the protection of animals also attracts worldwide attention and support. And gorilla tourism offers communities around national parks an economic perspective, as 20% of fees go directly to the local population in addition to tourism creating jobs. This avoids long-term conflicts between humans and animals as well as poaching.
“The mountain gorilla population in Uganda has been steadily increasing to about 550 individuals since the 1980s. This shows that our model for gorilla tourism works and both conservation and locals benefit from the tourism. We therefore have no reason to change anything or increase fees,” explains Dr. Andrew Seguya, Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has in fact been very successful in the protection of mountain gorillas. Between September 2016 and January 2017 alone, there was a real baby boom with a total of five new-born mountain gorillas. This gives hope to conservationists, in the light of IUCN recently listing the mountain gorilla as critically endangered on the latest ”red list” of threatened species.
“Once you have looked into the eyes of a mountain gorilla, you understand how important it is to protect these primates. We therefore think it is important, that not only a wealthy minority can get the chance to experience these animals in their natural environment, but everyone who loves gorillas and wants to contribute to their conservation. Besides, we feel obliged to our tourism partners worldwide to keep prices stable”, said Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board.
To protect these highly endangered primates, gorilla tracking is highly regulated. A maximum of 8 visitors per day are allowed for each gorilla group. Together with specially trained rangers, tourists hike into the rainforest and track the animals. Once the group is found, visitors can stay with them for about an hour only.
In Uganda, gorilla tracking can be done in two national parks: in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which protects the habitat of about 450 mountain gorillas living in 36 families. And the Mgahinga National Park on the border between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mgahinga has between 50-100 mountain gorillas. According to WWF there are only 880 mountain gorillas worldwide. The remaining population lives in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In light of Uganda’s recent marketing drives in Europe, tour operators in Germany, Austria and Switzerland expect a rise in demand for safaris in favor of Uganda. Uganda is not only absolutely safe for tourists, but also offers other attractions besides the mountain gorillas, such as safari tours in the ten national parks, chimpanzee tracking, hiking and mountaineering, boat cruises on the Nile as well as an immense variety of bird species.