Uganda’s gorillas thrive as tourism takes a COVID hit

By AT editor - 4 September 2020 at 3:27 pm
Uganda’s gorillas thrive as tourism takes a COVID hit

Uganda is celebrating the birth of another baby mountain gorilla, the fifth such arrival for the endangered species in the last six weeks.

The latest little gorilla was born to Ruterana, an adult female in the Rushegura family group that lives in the Bwindi forest. It is her third child, though not all have survived, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The family group now includes 18 members.

Last week it was Kibande – the most senior female of the family – who welcomed her second child. Other newborns were noted in April and May, with the babies born to different gorilla family groups that live in the region.

“The birth of new mountain gorillas is testimony to Uganda’s successful conservation efforts. With enhanced integrity of protected areas, there has been a general increase in wildlife populations in Uganda,” says Sam Mwandha, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the mountain gorilla as an endangered species, while the UWA said it continues to protect the gorillas to “ensure that the population increases despite the COVID-19 interruptions.”

While those disruptions may not trouble the gorillas, COVID has caused a tourism economic hit for Uganda.

Wildlife tourism is a key industry for Uganda, with 1.5 million visitors expected this year before the coronavirus pandemic came. Bloomberg reported Thursday that the East African nations may see a US$2 billion shortfall because of COVID impacts on tourism and travel, with Uganda reaching out to World Bank and other lenders for help.

Image: UWA

 

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