KAMPALA – KAMPALA – Uganda’s mountain gorilla population has been growing steadily over the years, becoming one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions with Gorilla Safaris becoming the most sought after trips to do in the Pearl of Africa.
The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mr. Sam Mwandha, said Uganda now earns UGX60 billion annually in the form of tourism from Mountain gorillas.
Mr. Mwandha, while releasing the gorilla census results in Kampala on Monday, December 16, 2019, said that as of December 2018, the number of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda was 459 in 50 groups, and increased 15 percent (400) from 2011.
The outgoing Minister of Tourism, Professor Ephraim Kamunti, said Uganda Mountain Gorilla populations are in Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable national parks.
“Combining the two populations, it’s more than accurate to assert that Uganda is home to more than 50 percent of the World’s remaining the population of Mountain Gorillas,” he said.
Prof Kamutu added: “ Uganda is also home to 11 percent of the world’s recorded species of birds constituting 50 per cent of Africa’s bird species richness; 7.8 per cent of the Global Mammal Diversity constituting 39 percent of Africa’s Mammal Richness; 19 percent of Africa’s amphibian species richness; 14 percent of Africa’s reptile species richness, 1,249 species of butterflies and 600 species of fish. As we discover Uganda Safaris, we are now selling more than the big 5, but rather the Big 7 with the inclusion of the Gorillas and the Chimpanzees.”
He explained that the rich biodiversity of Uganda is key to national development and economic transformation.
“For example, tourism, which is largely dependent on biodiversity, is now the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda, bringing in $1.5 billion (23.5 percent of the total exports) annually. The tourism sector provides 1.173 million jobs in Uganda (8 percent of total employment), adding that Mountain Gorillas play a pivotal role as a prime product for Uganda’s tourism,” he said.