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Gorilla Trekking Guidelines
Gorillas Trekking Etiquette simply means the Dos and Don’ts/Rules and regulations/code of behaviour to strictly be followed and abide by it while in the dense forest/Jungle searching for the critically endangered mountain Gorillas. Gorilla Trekking activity is the most incredible and unforgettable piece/area of an African Tour/Trip, as you enjoy coming into contact with these Gentle giants in their Natural Habitats. Another thing about Gorilla Trekking is that it acts as a source of employment to the local community individuals like Guiding rangers, those who help out(porters), Trail maintainers who initially were poachers and now dedicated to the fight against poaching.
These Critically Endangered Mountain Gorillas are affected by destruction of their Natural Habitats, being illegal hunted/captured (poaching), transference of human sicknesses during the commercial organisation hence giving a threat to their survival and state of living.
The Gorilla Trekking permit fee is also another form of applying the Gorilla Trekking Etiquette and the conservation energy of the Mountain Gorillas. Uganda’s Gorilla permit costs $600, $1500 in Rwanda and $400 in DR Congo, these costs preserve/defend these Gentle Giants and their Natural habitats. The Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) is one of the Gorilla conservation organisations in Uganda and other Non-government organisations have set laws/Dos & Don’ts to control Gorilla Trekking and apply Gorilla Trekking Etiquette as stated below.
Before setting off/ departing/leaving for Gorilla trekking activity
- A total number of 8 visitors or tourists is allowed to track /visit a particular mountain gorilla family or group in a day. This number considered helps to reduce behavioral disturbances that humans may cause to these mountain gorillas. It also helps to reduce on the chances of transferring diseases from humans to the mountain gorillas.
- Before your trekking exercise -set off, ensure to have your hands washed thoroughly well. This is to promote the highest level of cleanliness.
During the hike
- You are advised to keep your voices extremely low as you are heading to track the mountain Gorillas and requested to even be quieter when you finally meet them. This enables you get an opportunity to watch the other various wildlife species in the course of the trail like Birds, Golden Monkeys, Butterflies, etc. Still the peace of these animals is not disrupted at all.
- Always follow your tour guide through the whole trekking process and make sure you stick with the group for both safety purposes and also be able to get thorough explanations of the attractions seen along the way to the mountain Gorillas.
- Do not recklessly litter rubbish in any National park or protected area. You are requested to keep any garbage or trash on you until you are back at the briefing point then dispose it off.
- As you approach the place where the guides observed the mountain Gorillas the day before, from there you will follow the Gorilla traces to find them, and look out for the Gorilla nesting sites along the way.
- The guides will inform you to get ready when approaching the mountain Gorillas.
Finally, when with the Gorillas
- You are requested to keep a distance of 7m (21 feet) from where the mountain Gorillas are. Though they are habituated, mountain Gorillas are still wild animals and if they feel threatened they can move away.
- Keep in a tight group whenever near the mountain Gorillas, Eating, Drinking or smoking is prohibited in the presence of these Gorillas and keep your voices as low as possible but then you are free to ask questions from your guide.
- Do not look closely and straight /directly in the eyes of the Gorillas, sometimes these animals do charge. Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
- Do not touch the Gorillas because they are wild animals and flashy photography is not allowed, so move slowly and carefully when going to do that.
- The time spent with the Gorillas is limited to one hour this is simply to minimize any behavioral disturbances, stress and possible risk of infection.
- Keep your voices very down after the visit until you are 200m away from these animals.
- Body language is important and visitors should not raise hands or arms, or point, nor stare at them because to gorillas their behaviours are signs of threat or aggression.
The General Health Rules
- All wastes must be buried, a 30m hole is dug, dispose off every waste there then fill up the hole when finished. This is done because these wastes(faeces) can highly be infectious to the great apes and other animals.
- If you feel ill, carrying a contagious disease, please don’t engage yourself in the activity. So another visit will be arranged for you or your money refunded back.
- Respect the number of visitors or tourists recommended a day to visit or see the Gorillas because this minimizes the risk of disease transmission and reduces stress to the group, strain and behavioral disturbance, to reduce the possibilities of possible future aggression towards tourists and to prevent the Gorillas from becoming too habituated to humans.
- Always stay away from the Gorillas,7m (21 feet). This protects them from catching human diseases.
- If you, the tourist, need to sneeze or cough, turn away from the Gorillas and try to cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of airborne bacteria or viruses that you might unknowingly be carrying.
- All rubbish must be removed from the park, and visitors/tourists are asked to be particularly careful not to drop small items, such as, film boxes / canisters, tissues or handkerchiefs, food wrappers, wipes, etc. Apart from being nasty, rubbish can interest animals, can cause problems if swallowed, and can be a source of germ or disease transmission.
The Gorilla Trekking Etiquette is the only Format to make certain of conservation of these Critically Endangered Species (mountain gorillas), the most important instruction is that you are advised to stay near your ranger/guide and follow keenly his instructions always as you experience these wonderful, graceful and peaceful gentle giants.