Don’t Miss Kwita Izina: An Experience Organized by Former Poachers

Kwita Izina is a Rwandan tradition of naming a baby soon after its birth. Rwanda is home to a third of the world’s remaining 750 of the species. Others are living in the Uganda’s and DRC’s part of the Virunga Mountains. Since 2005, Rwanda Development Board Tourism and conservation launched the first ever Gorillas Naming Ceremony to conserve and protect the region where the mountains gorillas live. This ceremony was originally meant for human babies in the Rwandan culture whereby each new born was given a name during a traditional ceremony. Because of the economic and environmental interests that are attached to mountain gorillas, this ceremony was introduced to name baby gorillas in a national ceremony that is now recognized at the international level.

Naming a mountain gorilla baby is considered to be a great honor. People responsible for carrying out the activity of Naming are carefully chosen to include individuals both globally and locally that have made a great contribution to conservation efforts both in Rwanda and the world. The gorilla naming ceremony involves cultural performances and traditions from local entertainers that finalize the Kwita Izina week. The event takes over 20,000 guests in Kinigi at the foothills of the Volcano Mountains in the Northern Province of Rwanda. Every year important players from both the conservation and tourism industries attend the event.

Known people around the world have also involved themselves in this ceremony among them is Jeffrey David Sachs American economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Isaiah Washington IV and his family, American actor, Ms. Lieke van Lexmond the Dutch actor, TV and film producer, Mr Rifai Taleb the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization among others. The latter have given baby gorillas names that are related to conservation efforts such as Imigano (Bamboo), Icyororo (Fertile), Inyungura (Addition), Ubukerarugendo (Tourism) among others.

Rwanda’s annual baby gorillas naming ceremony “KWITA IZINA” has recently been short-listed among the finalists for the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for innovation in public policy and governance. Gorilla naming ceremony has seen 173 baby gorillas named in a function that normally takes place in June of every year at the foot of Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, Musanze district in the Northern Province. Every year the organizers of KWITA IZINA chose a theme that is related to the conservation efforts geared at protecting gorillas.

On top of all, in 2013, Tourism authorities added Kwita Izina Caravan to this annual event in order to give a chance to tourists to jump on board a caravan from Kigali to Kinigi where the Kwita Izina ceremonies are held. During the caravan not only do visitors discover Rwanda’s most beautiful sights and environmental wonders but also the country’s beauty as well as its cultural heritage.

In addition to that, gorilla naming ceremonies have attracted thousands of international, regional and local visitors which have contributed to tourism revenues that keep on increasing year by year. Authorities have understood the role played by communities that live around the park and give them 5% of revenues generated in tourism in order to lift them out of poverty. Apart from that, this ceremony has played a big role to convert former poachers into responsible citizen that care for the environment conservation.

How Much Are Gorilla Tours in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo?

Each and every client wants to know the price for a gorilla tour and indeed this is the most interesting questions that have been discussed in forums like Trip Advisor and the Lonely Planet. This is to act as a guide line and should just act as a guide line and should you have any questions, please our experienced tour consultants for more details. For the very successful gorilla trekking tour, you need to have a gorilla permit, book and pay for your accommodation, transport to and from Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Volcanoes National Park. Depending on where you wish to trek the gorillas, the minimum days for a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda is three while in Rwanda, its two days.

Gorilla Permits

About the cost of the gorilla permits; within your budget, your number one item should be a gorilla permit. This is the item that gives you permission to see the endangered mountain gorillas for one hour per person in Uganda or Rwanda. Currently each gorilla permits costs USD 600 and you contact you can contact us for your gorilla permit pre purchase. Rwanda gorilla permit costs $ 1500 per person. Gorilla permits for Bwindi and Ngahinga Gorilla National park are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority head offices in Kampala on a fast come first serve basis while the gorilla permits for Rwanda are issued by Rwanda Development Board. Please contact us for availability and booking of gorilla permits at Uganda Wildlife Authority or Rwanda Development Board. It’s also advised that you pre purchase your gorilla permits 3-5 months in advance to avoid shortage most especially during the high seasons of June, July, August and September , then December, January and February.

Transport

The price and cost of Transport; you will need to budget and plan transport to and from Bwindi impenetrable National park. The minimum days to Bwindi impenetrable National park by road is three days. This means you need to budget for three days. The first day is for transferring to Bwindi and the second day is moving round Bwindi impenetrable national park. You will need a vehicle to transfer you to and from the starting point of your gorilla trek and the third day is to drive back to Entebbe /Kampala.

You also need to budget for a vehicle with guide per day and then fuel to cater for the long distance from Entebbe to and from Bwindi Impenetrable national Park. You can also contact us for the rates of vehicle hire. You can also plan to fly to and from Bwindi impenetrable National Park as some companies like AeroLink operates scheduled flights and from Kihihi that is the nearest Air field and you need transfers from the Air strip to your lodge. The other companies like fly Uganda and Eagle Air operates charter flights to and from Bwindi impenetrable National Park.

Accommodation

The cost and price of accommodation; you will also have to budget for your accommodation for at least 2 nights. The first night is when you arrive in Bwindi impenetrable National Park and the second night is after your gorilla trek. Most of the accommodation offer rooms and meals on full board. And on depending on the type of accommodation, both sides of Bwindi impenetrable National Park and have budget, mid-range and the up market facilities so depending on your taste please do contact us for more information.

Porters

The cost of porters, we encourage all our clients to take porters for their gorilla trek for many reasons. These carry your bags and when you are about to come close to the gorillas, they will remain with your packed lunches and all the items that you might not need. They will give you a push or pull during your trek in the forest. This extra effort is to also enable you get your dream of viewing these mountain gorillas. The importance of taking a porter is that by doing so, you are contributing to community development since most of these porters are school going boys and girls and this chance was only given to students to work and get money to for their school fees. By paying for a porter, you are contributing to community development indirectly.

Tipping

The tips are an appreciation of good service that is rendered to you by your safari guide, gorilla trekking guide, waitress and porters. It’s not a must that you have to do this. As a responsible tour company, we also recommend that you put some small funds aside for tipping.

The company markup, on top of the above costs, the company can put between 10% -20% of the total cost as filing or the service fee. This is part of our profit as well as helping us to book all services like gorilla permits, accommodation and making telephone calls to check availability and make sure that all is in order.

When Is the Best Time to Go Mountain Gorilla Trekking?

Gorilla trekking tours experiences are the most loved experience that everyone visiting Africa wouldn’t miss to take as now they have turned to be more flexible and affordable due to the new service providers like Eco Tours Rwanda, joining the industry to offer the best services to all clients of sort visiting the mountain gorillas in Africa. Gorilla tours are so much amazing in the both seasons which are rainy and sunny seasons in Africa, during the rainy season of April, May and November every year the experience is so much amazing as the primates hang out at the easiest low altitudes in the mountains, and the sunny seasons (June-December and January-March) the gorillas are in the high altitudes of Virunga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda respectively.

I and my girlfriend, it was this year in March 12th 2017, we traveled to Uganda and Rwanda for the mountain gorilla tours and our safari started in Uganda visiting first Queen Elizabeth National Park for the wildlife game viewing and then the boat cruise along the Kazinga channel, and over this cruise so much wildlife and bird life species can be spotted relaxing at the banks of the channel. After this we moved to the Ishasha southern sector, for the search of the African tree climbing lions in the branches of the fig trees and in the evening upon our arrival to this section we spotted quite few and then the next day after the early morning game drive we cheered at our lodge as we wait for the next evening game drive to search for the more tree climbing lions and great we did saw more hanging in the branches of the big fig tree and my girlfriend too as many photographs and videos to take back to the parents as excited for her to having visited Africa for her first time!

Later, we embarked our safari jeep with our guide Alex being knowledgeable and amazing transferred us to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and at this side we relaxed at Heaven Lodge Buhoma and then the next day took the unforgettable gorilla trekking tour visiting the Rushegura family and when we met the gorillas it was 1 hour with them taking photos and the videos and later transferred back to the park headquarters for our gorilla trekking certificates and then to the lodge for overnight stay.

Early with after our cup of coffee jumped into our safari jeep very ready with our passports to cross the Uganda-Rwanda border at Cyanika and this process took us like 2 hours to clear for our Visas at the border, after it took us like 40 minutes’ drive to Ruhengeri province of Rwanda and on our arrival we check in at the Laplame Hotel and then in the evening visited the IbyI’wacu Cultural Village for the an evening Rwanda cultural performances which establishment creates employment to the locals staying near and far away from the park and in other words encourages them to save the park and the tourism products in the area.

Very prepared with our packed lunch and other trekking requirements like the walkable shoes, hut, insect repellent, sun screen, rain gears among others we moved to the park offices for the briefing about the Volcanoes National Park and the mountain gorillas too, after in our 08 people group entered into the tropical rain forest to search for the mountain gorillas in the mist and after with our gorilla trekking certificate moved back to our lodge for dinner and overnight stay. And on our last day we embarked our safari jeep and transferred to the airport with en-route visit to some genocide and later depart home!

Gorilla Photo Tours in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Within the World Heritage Site that is Bwindi, we discover one of nature travel’s peak experiences, a visit with wild gorillas in their natural habitat. Fewer than 880 mountain gorillas remain in the world, half of them in this preserve. Our safari includes two chances to spend time among the gorillas (which can be described as double gorilla trek in Rwanda or gorilla habituation experience in Uganda and maximizing our prospects for extraordinary photographs, often at very close range.

Early in the morning we depart on a trek through the dense rain forest on a quest to locate one of the “habituated” family groups. Our local guides are expert trackers, reading signs of the gorillas’ recent presence in the undergrowth. Finally we hear and see them, and watch, enrapt: they sit in the trees and chew leaves; babies cling to mothers’ backs; juveniles swing from branches; the big male silver back surveys all, including us. It’s hard to tell who is more captivated, them or us!

This trip has been designed for the ultimate Gorilla enthusiast. With four treks it gives you the perfect opportunity to come away from this trip not only having amazing sightings, but a collection of very strong images. You are supposed to react according to the gorilla’s reaction in order to get the best shots ever before.

But with the experienced guides of Gorilla tours Rwanda, you can always get the shot. The easiest shots to get are the ones for the young ones because they are eager for whatever is going on so their display is wide most especially while playing. This gives you a variety of shots hence widening the photo gallery in Bwindi National Park.

You will first enjoy the shots of the giant silver backs whereby you will have a display while lying to their backs and this will give you a proper view of their fingers, feet, as well as their open eyes which sometimes may fail you out but if you take a direct shot in them then you get it right. You then take shots of the females taking care of their young ones which are more similar to human beings. When the mother is breast feeding, you have to be very care full while taking shots because sometimes they don’t want to be on display while breastfeeding so it is beyond reasonable doubt that you may fail out on that particular shot. Book with us to enjoy and achieve wide range photography you would ever think of in your dream safari.

5 Reasons Why You Should Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

After a long waited time full of imaginations, then you encounter the rare mountain gorillas relaxed in the wild is the best moment of truth! Despite the fact that several forests exist in the world, but few of them offer the world with magnificent wild creatures like the tropical rain forest in Uganda, Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo. One would ask if there are still forests in African continent given the fact that deforestation is claiming the natural forests at higher rate. Well, it all leaves imaginations running in our minds still, not until you get yourself to jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest-Uganda, Virunga National Park in Congo basin or Montane forests in Rwanda. In the world, only Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) make up the 3 (three) destinations that offer useful values to world travelers in terms of wilderness experiences specifically being the habitats to world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. The rare mountain gorillas do not live in the zoo and handful of them are still surviving in the world with total population of less than 900 individuals that are shared amongst the three destinations. You may wonder why these creatures are regarded as the critically endangered species in the world but it is best explained based on the several threats that have claimed the lives of the mountain gorillas. Gorillas are many in the world, but thousands of world trackers/trekkers flock into Uganda, Rwanda and DRC purposely to see the rare mountain gorillas and hence gorilla trekking forms one of the world’s sought after adventures.

Currently, tourism is basically dependent on the mountain gorillas although other wildlife species do inspire our senses. Like any wildlife species, the main threat to the life of the mountain gorillas has been poaching and habitat encroachment especially by adjacent local communities not until the government of Uganda and Rwanda have made efforts to establish the Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and the Virunga National Park in DRC which also have implemented anti poaching patrols especially through recruiting park rangers and other security bodies to protect the lives of the mountain gorillas in the wilderness.  These conservation mechanisms don’t come from anywhere but from the gorilla fees that are collected from visitors during gorilla trekking; a reason why you should book your gorilla safari to any of the destination. Your support is highly appreciated as it will help to enhance visitor experiences!

Don’t bury your dreams! Although seeing the mountain gorillas in the wild is based on the probability, it is now a bit easier for you in Rwanda.

Below are highlights why you should book a gorilla safari to Rwanda.

It is estimated that around a 3rd of the world’s mountain gorillas are found in Rwanda. Previously, it has been difficult traveling from the United Kingdom (UK) to Rwanda not until recently that the RwandAir, the national flag carrier of Rwanda is yet to conduct three (3) weekly flights to Kigali-the capital city of Rwanda form London Gatwick International Airport.

Besides the rare mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park, tourists can as well pay a visit to Nyungwe House in Gisakura famous place for tea plantation adjacent to the Nyungwe National Park. When it comes to primates, Nyungwe Forest takes the largest part with 13 various primate species and about 75 various mammal species. In Africa, Nyungwe forest forms one of the ancient jungles in the continent.

Nature resorts have also been established by Ultra Luxury brand, one and only incredible resorts is the “Gorilla’s Nest” that are situated on the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range. Famously, this is a remarkable refuge for the critically endangered mountain gorillas! You can now explore the magnificent gorilla habitat while viewing these extraordinary wild creatures at ease. This is one of the unique adventures that you should not miss to take up while in Rwanda.

For long, gorilla fees have supported the conservation and protection of not just the mountain gorillas but also other wildlife species. This however, can lead other destinations like the Virunga National Park that is still recovering from insecurity to borrow the knowledge especially by encouraging his game rangers or conservationist to appreciate the value of conserving wildlife.

To some other people this might seem news in the ears but the fact is that mountain gorillas have previously been in the film industry specifically the Hollywood film in 1987, famously called “Gorillas in the Mist” especially at the time of the Weaver and Dian Fossey. Weaver was famous zoologist as Dr Dian Fossey was one of the great primatologists who conducted her research study on mountain gorillas in Rwanda. If you have ever heard about the first person to start gorilla habituation then the name “Dian Fossey” should ring in your mind! Today while you pay a visit to Gorilla Nest in Rwanda, don’t miss to reach Dian Fossey’s Karisoke Camp.

Further still, Sir David Attenborough also had remarkable moments with mountain gorilla around the Virunga Volcanoes. Probably if you have ever read about personalities who had great TV experiences in this destination, then Sir David Attenborough should come first in your mind. He further filmed series about “Life on Earth” for BBC in 1978 especially at the time when he interacted with these humble creatures face to face in the Virunga Volcanoes. While in the Virunga Volcanoes David enjoyed his moments with some of the young ones and he regarded it as “one of the most unforgettable moments of his career.” Don’t miss these incredible experiences especially as you enjoy the playful gorillas.

Whether you are planning for gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park; your mind should not think about mountain gorillas alone but lots of fascinating primates and forest birds. In the Virunga National Park for instance is a home to Eastern Lowland gorillas and Chimpanzees which makes it the only outstanding destination in the world that offers 3 (three) types large primates.

While in the Virunga, don’t expect only the primates to be juggling in this tropical rain forest but also the “Okapi” an elusive wild species that portrays the zebra in out look but mostly takes the largest part of the giraffe appearance.

If others have achieved their dreams with these extraordinary primates, then why not you! It is a golden opportunity to interact with these beautiful creatures in the wild. If you think about human close relatives then meet the gorillas in the wild. Encounter these intelligent and gentle creatures that share about 98% of their DNA with humans. Interacting with the mountain gorillas offers wonderful experiences especially when you learn more on their dignity.

At the time of Dian Fossey, she asserted that “The more you learn about the dignity of mountain gorillas, the more a person will wants to avoid people” and to prove her statement, then get yourself gorilla permit and track mountain gorillas in the wild. The gorilla permit costs $600 for Uganda, $1500 for Rwanda and $400 for Democratic Republic of Congo.

In conclusion, viewing mountain gorillas is a life changing experience that comes once in a life time. Gorilla trekking is more than just mountain gorillas but serene of other primates that come along the trek. Visit Uganda, Rwanda or DRC for ultimate mountain gorilla experiences and you won’t regret in life!

Planning an Independent Gorilla Trek in Rwanda

Are you contemplating on planning for a gorilla trekking safari yourself, but are confused on how to go about with it? You are not alone in this dilemma. When some tourists are planning to use the services of tour operators to plan for their gorilla trek. Others find it comfortable of plan their own gorilla trekking safaris though these are fewer given the logistics of planning a trip. As a matter of fact, planning for a gorilla safari by yourself is cheaper if you are well acquainted with the booking process!  It is very cumbersome and can really become challenging because you will need to plan for everything from the gorilla permit to the day you finally visit Rwanda for the safari.

Gorilla trekking is one of the exceptional tourist activities (actually the major activity) that draws thousands of tourists to Remarkable Rwanda – the Land of a thousand hills. With over 300 mountain gorillas within the Volcanoes National park alone (of all the 440 mountain gorillas within the Virunga Massif), it is no doubt that it takes the lion share of all the National parks within the Virunga Massif (Mgahinga National Park of Uganda and Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo). To plan for a gorilla trekking safari yourself needs adequate information on the availability, price of gorilla trekking permits and how to acquire them, transport means and fares from Kigali International Airport up to the Volcanoes National Park/accommodation facilities and back to Kigali after the safari, the accommodation facilities to book with and other helpful information (especially exchange rates, security issues and other tips required). However, with the information provided, it is a guaranteed that your personal gorilla trekking safari is going to be successful;

Booking for Gorilla Trekking Permits

The first and most important thing to consider is to book for a gorilla trekking permit at least 6 months in advance to guarantee your participation in the adventure. You will need to first check with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) for the availability of the gorilla permits for the day you wish to track the mountains gorillas. Currently gorilla permits for tracking one of the 10 habituated Gorilla groups is at $1500 per person. You can contact the RDB by calling +252 57 65 14 or send an email to reservation@rwandatourism.com or reach their offices in Kigali physically. If you are far, no need to worry because after making Payments, the scanned copy of gorilla permits can be sent to you.

Book for Accommodation Facilities

It is very important to book for accommodation in advance after confirming that the gorilla permits are available. Tourists are advised to book for accommodation facilities not far away from the trailhead and the Park Headquarters, but the best options for accommodation facilities include Bisate Wilderness Lodge/Da Vinci Safari Lodge/Sabinyo Silverback Lodge for tourists interested in Luxury options, Le Bambou Gorilla Village Mountain gorilla view Lodge for midrange facilities and Hotel Muhabura/Kinigi Guesthouse/Amahoro Guesthouse for budget facilities.

What to Pack for the Gorilla Trekking Safari

You will also need to know the right things to pack for the activity and they include long sleeved shirts, long trousers, a camera, a backpack, a pair of binoculars, strong waterproof hiking boots, long socks, a hat and sun glasses, a rain jacket/poncho, a sweater and insect repellant among others. On the day of tracking the mountain gorillas, make sure to hire a porter to carry your backpack and also carry a walking stick, packed lunch and enough drinking water among others.

After arrival at Kigali International Airport, it is important to book for transport to Ruhengeri

There are several local bus companies in Nyaburogo Bus Station, in Kigali that head to Ruhengeri town. It is important to book for a bus ticket at least 30 minutes in advance so as to travel on time. Different bus companies charge different prices, but the most popular one-the Virunga Express Bus charges around 2000 francs per person and the journey lasts only 2 hours.

Book for Transport to Kinigi Park Headquarters

Most buses only stop at Ruhengeri, hence you need another means to take you up to Kinigi Park Headquarters or to the accommodation facility. This journey always takes between 20 and 25 minutes and taxis charge about 300 francs and motor cycles charge about 500 francs depending on your bargaining power.

In conclusion, instead of booking for gorilla safaris through tour operators, most tourists are shifting to booking for the safaris themselves because it is cheaper but also involves a lot of legwork because you need to get information on the gorilla permit, accommodation facilities and transportation to and from the National Park.

5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Uganda for Gorilla Trekking

Many want to track gorillas in the best trekking destination in Africa, despite it being one of the most pricey wildlife adventures but still the most exciting in the world. The search for a perfect gorilla trekking destination varies depending on one’s budget and interest. However, Uganda stands out best for gorilla trekking safaris in all aspects including, transport, gorilla permit, accommodation and other attractions that travelers wish to experience.

Do you want to see mountain gorillas but you have a small budget? Fly into Entebbe and head out for a cheaper gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi forest or Mgahinga national park, two gorilla national parks in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Tracking gorillas in Uganda is very cheap and affordable either on budget, midrange or luxury travel arrangements.

Transport in Uganda

Visitors to Uganda are free to connect to different destinations of interest by road or air means of travel. Taxis, Boda boda, special hire taxis, Buses, self drive, are the common used road transport options for whoever feels like getting around. When using buses or taxis in Uganda make sure you keep your valuables and don’t eat food or drinks from other passengers.

Self Drive

Those looking at driving themselves (Self drive), use 4WD cars that is in good condition and first checks for spare tire changing equipments before embarking on any journey. Also make get the international driving license plus a log book photocopy. Respect all the driving rules and regulations on the road especially the speed.

Flying in Uganda

Uganda has multiple domestic flight operators including Aero link, Eagle air. Mission aviation fellowship that fly to national parks and other places making it easy for visitors to connect to any place any time. Some flights are scheduled while others are not and flexible for any traveler.  Remember, most of the airstrips are not located in city centers so you need a vehicle to move you to the exact place of travel.

Accommodations

There aren’t as many campsites in Uganda as there are in many other countries but you can stay in the available lodges, hotels and hostels. Various accommodation facilities are located close to every tourist attraction and airport making it easy for visitors to find overnight stay places even those on late flight arrivals. All accommodations cater for all kinds of travelers, luxury, midrange and budget and the choice is made by the travelers themselves.

Those on Uganda gorilla trekking safaris can sleep at Buhoma community bandas, Gorilla friends campsite, Broad Bill campsite, Gift of Nature, wagtail eco lodge, Nshongi gorilla camp and many others for budget option, while those on luxury gorilla safaris can opt for lodges like Clouds mountain gorilla lodge, Sanctuary Gorilla forest camp, Volcanoes lodge, Gorilla safari lodge, Ruhija safari lodge among others.

Gorilla Permits in Uganda

Unique mountain gorilla tracking and cheap gorilla permits are found only in Uganda. The time is now for everyone to go gorilla trekking in Africa at affordable rates. In both Bwindi national Park and Mgahinga national park ,gorilla permits cost $600 per a trek a price that is valid until 2019 a year in which the Uganda Wildlife Authority is planning to revise all the Uganda national park tariff rates. Even the discounted permits that cost $450 for April, May and November will remain a great opportunity for those looking at budget gorilla trekking safaris in Africa.

Today gorilla tourism is very important in Uganda and a base for most safaris in Uganda. Much of the safaris  are  for gorilla trekking to Bwindi forest and Mgahinga national park because it’s the prime tourist attraction in Uganda. However, tracking gorillas with a visit to other Uganda national parks like Kibale forest, Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley is a great fantastic experience that no everyone should experience while in Africa.

New Born Gorilla in Virunga National Park

When one talks of gorilla tracking, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga in Uganda, Volcanoes in Rwanda, Kauzi Biega and Virunga national parks in DR Congo are the only parks blessed with the gentle giants. Different from others, DR Congo has both the mountain and lowland gorillas. Early this week, breathtaking news stroke the tourism industry in DR Congo particularly. A new baby gorilla was brought into this world in the Bageni gorilla group. Our baby “mama” is called “Karibu”, Karibu coalited with silverback “Bageni” to bring these smiles we have on our faces. The park rangers have not yet gotten any chance to hold the little one so, it has no name yet as its sex has not been identified so far.

The baby’s father – Bageni is a strong and respected silverback in the group apparently after winning control of the Kabirizi group females and started his own family, he continues to prove that he is a good father and protector. Meanwhile, silverback Kabirizi, the former leader of the group who lost control over a year ago, now spends his time with other blackbacks and juveniles in what is left of the Kabirizi group. He seems to have really accepted the defeat and moved on with his life under Bageni. Once commanding a group of as many as 34 individuals, Kabirizi was a force to be reckoned with. Time has taken its toll on him, but at least Kabirizi has a legacy of which he can be proud. In fact, we believe Bageni is actually his son, so this really is a case of “keeping it in the family”.

All these and more stories can touched by having a visit in one of the parks mentions and participate in some of the activities carried out such as gorilla tracking, chimpanzee tracking in either Nyungwe Forest or Kibale national parks not forgetting the numerous wildlife tours enjoyed in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls or Akagera national parks. Alternatively there is plenty to offer for the birdwatchers. Nyungwe Forest, Kibale Forest, Mabamba Swamp Bay among others are endowed with various rare bird species. Otherwise may this baby’s days be long and prosperous!

DRC Park Rangers Recieve Support

This past year has seen the DRC Parks Relief Mission reach its goal and more. In October 1999 I stated our goal as an immediate, short-term, “bottom-up” emergency relief effort to provide emergency survival and morale supplies directly to the DRC Park Rangers, which we could reach during the war.” We clearly defined our exit strategy and we have successfully reached it. We have completed our goal by securely delivering materials to Kahuzi-Biega (PNKB), Upemba, Kundelungu, and Salonga National Parks, as well as manufacturing uniforms for all DRC Parks Gardes and producing the new Garde de Parc insignia patches for 1,600 personnel across the whole of the country. Our efforts and communications have also inspired an American NGO to begin working in Maiko National Park, the first efforts on-the-ground in a decade. You will remember that 100 percent of the Grauer’s Gorilla population occurs in DRC, half of the entire population are found in the Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks. So, these efforts are critical to the survival of this magnificent gorilla type. The PNKB Garde de Parc continue to monitor the gorilla population and still have not lost any since January 2000. Conservation successes continue!

Through the Gorilla Haven response and website, the Lukuru Wildlife Research Project facilitated support either financially or with in-kind services from 40 organizations and many more individuals from the global conservation community in nine countries on five continents. Gorilla Haven was one of the first to step forward … and they have extended support throughout the life of the DRC Parks Relief Mission.

Your direct contributions have enabled us to provide materials that respond to the emotional and physical needs of the Park Rangers (including things specific to individual parks) and aide them in monitoring, patrolling, and protecting their critical wildlife and habitats. They now know that their efforts are extremely important, that the international community cares and is providing concrete support on their behalf. Today the Congolese authorities have actively renewed their commitment to conservation. Large international conservation organizations and funding sources have now begun to reach the DRC. We have been contacted by several international organizations for advice about establishing disaster relief committees or emergency accounts to fund rapid actions in the future.

Our emergency resources and motivational support included: personal items (woman’s clothe pagne’s; 1,300 lbs of mixed clothing for men, women, and children; donated Zoo keeper uniforms; 100-lb bale of socks; pairs of flip flop sandals; and blankets), household goods (sacks of rock salt; large serving spoons; table knives; cups; bowls; buckets; matches; razor blades; lock & key sets; mosquito netting for beds; spools of thread; safety pins; sachets of 10 litre bidons; powdered milk; sugar; and cartons of soap), basic medicines (Amodiaquine Malaridose Zenufa – a relatively new malaria cure treatment 3-pill protocol; Chloramphenicd Collyre pink-eye drops; Amoxycillin capsules; Multivit multivitamins tablets; Paracetamol tablets; Fortified Procaine Penicillin – Injectible Benzyl penicilliin vials; Sachets of Oral Rehydrations Salts; Quinine Sulfate; Aspirin tablets; Indomethac Indocide muscle relaxant; Mebendazole tablets worm cure medicine; Metronidazole anti-helminthic and antiamebic; Erythromycine; cotton balls; syringes; sterile precision-glide needles; winged infusion sets; alcohol preps; sterile IV sets; sodium chloride drip bags; and Liquid cough suppressant for children), anti-poaching equipment and development tools (rubber boots; Coleman Nevada 2-person tents; Lafuma rain ponchos; Bergamo backpacks; 24” and 16” machetes; shovels; hoes to clear patrol routes; canteens; GPS units; 100 2-meter-sized industrial sacks to transport cash crops to market; salaries to the park personnel; a color printer; a scanner; computer software; construction materials to repair Ranger houses and administrative structures; a hydroelectric plant generator; and bicycles), communications equipment (40 Motorola walkie-talkies with rechargeable batteries and regular backup batteries; and new VHF radiophoniques with accessories including antenna, cables, 12V battery, solar panels), wildlife conservation education materials (posters; pencils; stickers; special cahiers and depliants; magazines; brochures; and tee shirts), administrative supplies and equipment (manual typewriters with spare ribbons; bics; reams of paper; and boxes of envelopes), and school supplies (construction paper; pencils; bics; blackboards; chalk; school books and materials; museum donated scientific literature; scissors; glue; posters; water color paints; paint brushes; cahiers; toys; and soccer balls).
In addition to these ventures, five issues of ‘Le Gorille – Parc Nationale de Kahuzi-Biega’ have been printed and distributed to the communal human population in and around PNKB. We have involved the United Nations in issues of environment and wildlife conservation. Our efforts supported the first survey of PNKB (conducted in June 2000 by ICCN and Wildlife Conservation Society) by providing important research equipment. In producing the Parc de Garde uniforms, 80 percent of the funds were spent in Kinshasa demonstrating the ideal union between conservation and economic

development.
The DRC Parks Relief Mission has achieved a tangible and meaningful conservation effort. We have witnessed park guards who have regained their identity, motivation, unity, and self-esteem. You and Gorilla Haven have made a difference! Thank you!

Pinkie Found Dead

Pinkie, featured in the story about primates that survived human war, was found dead in the afternoon of May 20th. As usual, she was in her group of 34 chimps on a rainy spring day. When she didn’t show up for the afternoon feed, Tacugama staff began searching the perimeter of the several-acre enclosure.

The dominant male, Bruno, joined the staff in the search. Suddenly, from the interior, chimps started to make a noise. Bruno ran towards that direction and reappeared with the lifeless body of Pinkie. Bruno started to shake and prod the body as if he was checking for any sign of life. Bruno would not allow any chimp to come near the corpse.

Then all of a sudden to the staff’s surprise, Bruno tossed the body over the fence to the staff, who examined the body. It was cold, as if she had died a few hours earlier. She had a wound and an old blood strain above her right eye, but no other evidence to indicate she was attached by other chimps or bitten by a snake, or something else. She was found in an area with tall trees and the terrain is rocky. Perhaps during the rain she slipped from a branch and fell to her death.

It is a shame, that such a rare, beautiful life has been cut short at this tender age. Pinkie was a very special soul, and we shall miss her forever. May she rest in peace…