Ever wondered why trekking mountain gorillas is damn costly? An encounter with the world’s largest and most endangered primate species in wilderness is without doubt one of the most expensive wildlife encounter not only in Africa but world over. With Rwanda presenting itself as the most expensive option following its hike to 1500$ per permit, followed by Uganda at 600$ per permit and D.R. Congo maintaining itself as the most affordable option with her permit at 400$.
This however, doesn’t imply that the activity is only for the rich, but rather for those who understand the beauty and awe of meeting some of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla species in the wilderness, and the joy of being in the midst of a dynamic gorilla family is worth all the dollars paid and the strenuous hikes endured to reach the gorillas. Below are some of the reasons why it is essential to maintain gorilla permits at a high cost.
Mountain gorillas are endangered species
According to 2018 gorilla census in the Virunga region, only 1000 mountain gorillas are estimated to be currently surviving in the entire world. This number has moved from the previous 600 individuals in 2010. Thanks to the strict conservation efforts, for this might not have been achieved.
Mountain gorillas only thrive in 3 eastern countries, namely Uganda, Rwanda and DR. Congo; these are countries that were previously characterized by unending civil unrest, epidemic diseases, mineral exploration and illegal hunting; therefore it has taken many decades for such population to raise.
One of the measures adopted by many government and conservation bodies was therefore to make gorilla permits expensive as a way to limit the number of trekkers. With only a few gorilla families already habituated for trekking, the demand for gorilla permits has been immense and so a hike in fees is a way to bar many people who would rather want to participate in this memorable adventure.
Limiting the number of trekkers helps to keep gorilla habitats safe from mass tourism, exploitation, and exceeding the carrying capacity of a particular gorilla destination.
Restricting the number of trekkers also helps to keep the safety of gorillas in check, especially in terms of reducing human – gorilla diseases; these are infections such as cold, flu, cough, etc. that are spread through contact between mountain gorillas and humans.
Conservation of mountain gorillas and their habitats
Following massive illegal hunting, poaching and loss of habitats for mountain gorillas with in the Virunga region in the 80’s, there were campaigns initiated to curb this tragedy that had befallen these world’s most sought after primates. One of the remedies was to hike the prices of trekking permits so as to increase the revenue and in turn enhance conservation.
Money got from the sale of permits in all the four gorilla destinations is re-invested into conservation and protection of gorilla habitats. This is done through employing monitoring personnel in the parks, rangers, guides all who are responsible for monitoring the day – to – day life of gorillas, recording their movements, new births, deaths, monitoring sick ones, administering medication by gorilla doctors, habituation of new gorilla families, and so many other activities.
Part of the gorilla permit fees is also used to protect the destinations in which mountain gorillas inhabit, for example to create campaigns aimed at sensitizing neighboring communities to protect gorilla parks, anti-poaching sensitization and awareness schemes, etc.
Supporting local projects and improving livelihoods
Money earned from the sale of gorilla permits, some of it is remitted to the neighboring communities in form of revenue sharing. In Uganda, up to 20% of total revenue is given back to the neighboring communities to support local projects such as schools, medical centers, craft centers, roads, etc. This in turn has created a very positive relationship between the locals, visitors and the wildlife which for long had not been there.
It should be well noted that the high cost of gorilla permit is worth the magical encounter of trekking in the footsteps of mountain gorillas and eventually meeting them face – to – face is super magnificent. Purchase a gorilla permit to Uganda, Rwanda and D. R. Congo and be part of conservation agents and help save the habitats of world’s most endangered species.