One of the World’s Most Intimate Experiences Becomes More Accessible
KAMPALA, Uganda – What was once the world’s largest family of mountain gorillas, the Nshongi, located in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, has been reconfigured into three families. At the same time, another band, the Kahungye, has split into two. “These additions bring the total family groups in this sector to five, meaning more gorilla permits and more tracking options for tourists,” says Corne Schalkwyk, general manager of Premier Safaris, a specialist in adventure/luxury safaris in East Africa
Of all the groups, Schalkwyk believes the most interesting is the Busingye, led by a chest-thumping Silverback, a veritable King Kong, whose legendary forays in the wild for adult females have earned him a privileged place among gorilla Don Juans. “He mercilessly grabs females from groups that he encounters and has grown his turf (and his brood) faster than other gorillas. Visitors can expect great encounters and interesting animal behavior to absorb,” says Schalkwyk.
Research from the BMCA (Bwindi Mkahinga Conservation Area) monitoring team led by Research Warden Kato Raymond indicates no intention of the breakaway groups returning to their parent families in the future. (Unlike today’s college kids). Interactions between the “mother” families and their seceding factions have been characterized by fierce battles mostly restricted to dominant males guarding their turf. Each group tries to avoid direct interaction with one another for fear of losing members in a fight.
Premier Safaris will arrange gorilla treks into Bwindi with stays at Silverback Lodge, the largest property in Buhoma, comprising 12 self-contained rooms overlooking the Forest. The Lodge is excellently located, just a short walk to the forest park headquarters, and affords the best, most sweeping views of the valley
Mountain Gorillas are a critically endangered species. Of the 800 or so remaining in the world (none survive outside their natural habitat), more than half are to be found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. F.Y.I. The word gorilla derives from the Greek word Gorillai meaning hairy women.