29 September, 2006

Bwindi

Not all stories are bad. Some are good. Some very good and encouraging. One such very encouraging story is that of Bwindi; Bwindi National Park, Uganda. Bwindi's recovery as a major tourist attraction, is a reflection of the recovery of Uganda's tourism industry.

During the Idi Amin years and the unsettled years after that, many thought that Uganda would never recover as an attractive tourist destination. Many too, thought, that most of the attraction - wildlife in particular - would no longer be much of an attraction for tourists.

Of much concern, were the state of the gorilla population in Western Uganda; close to the Congo-Rwanda border. But the gorillas, mountain gorillas, some how survived all those unsettled years; and have now become Uganda's star tourist attraction. Their population has rebounded. The Uganda Tourist Board says: 'the endangered mountain gorilla, the bulkiest of living primates, and among the most peaceable. Staring into the pensive brown eyes of these gentle giants, who share 95% of their genes with humans, is as humbling as it is thrilling; no less so when one realizes that fewer than 700 individuals survive, divided between Bwindi National Park and the Virunga Mountains. Within Uganda, five habituated gorilla troops – four in Bwindi and one in Mgahinga National Park - can be visited by a total of 30 tourists daily.'

Chimpanzees too, are a big attraction:
'Uganda is also home to man’s closest relative, the chimpanzee, a delightful ape whose evocative pant-hoot call is a definitive sound of the African rain forest. Chimpanzee communities have been habituated for tourism at Kibale Forest, Budongo Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kyambura Gorge.'

Added to all these, is the large variety of other animals, the stunning scenery and wonderful friendly people of Uganda. It's relieving, encouraging and very pleasing to hear or read of such stories on wildlife; from Africa in particular. And of all places, from a country that was almost on the brink of becoming permanently anarchic: Uganda!

More on Uganda: Visit Uganda, Gorilla Tours.

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