Gorilla baby boom offers Ugandan national park hope that conservation efforts are working
- Five baby gorillas have been born in six weeks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Seven babies have been produced this year, compared to three in 2019
- Despite the constant menace of poaching in Uganda, the park has an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half the world’s population
Uganda says it has recorded a “baby boom” among gorillas in a national park that is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the East African country’s most prized tourist attractions.
Five babies have been born in just six weeks in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, according to the state-run Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). The park is located near Uganda’s southwestern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The latest, born last weekend, brings the total born this year to seven. In comparison, only three were born last year.
All the babies were born in the same gorilla group or family – the Rushegura – and the rash of births has increased the membership of the group, one of more than 20 in the park, to 18.
“This is highly unusual, it’s an incredible blessing,” said Bashir Hangi, spokesman for the UWA. “As conservationists we’re chest-thumping, we are excited.”
Tourism is one of Uganda’s key sources of revenue, with visitors flocking to its parks to view elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos and other big game.
A 320 square kilometre (123 square mile) patch of dense tropical forest, Bwindi is home to a range of animals including primates, elephants, and antelopes. The word “impenetrable” in its name alludes to the dense tropical forest that covers much of the park.
Tourists are mostly drawn to the park by its estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half the world’s population.
Hangi said the boom in births was testament to the relative success of the country’s conservation efforts despite frequent cases of poaching and other threats to its wildlife.
In July, a court sentenced a man to 11 years in prison for killing a 25-year-old Silverback gorilla named Rafiki, who was a leader of one of the gorilla groups in Bwindi, called Nkuringo, and hugely popular with tourists.