In search of Rwanda’s Gorillas; Safari Guru specialists, Deon and Suse, have headed into Rwanda to experience first-hand the amazing safari and cultural experiences this inspirational country has to offer in today’s post covid climate. We wanted to understand what impact (if any) the COVID induced halt of global tourism has affected Rwanda.
Rwanda, is a fascinating country. It has already faced immense hardship and decimation from the genocide of the 1990’s and, as many know, has re-built itself and arisen from the ashes of this tragic history.
Kigali, the capital, serves as the entry point for Africa’s best primate safaris. It is safe, clean, and ordered and really is an interesting start and finish to any visit to the country. The country offers big-five game viewing in the eastern Akagera park, picturesque Lake Kivu and Gishweti, tea and coffee experiences and chimp trekking in the West park of Nyungwe. But the country’s greatest draw is trekking to see one of 20 habituated gorilla families in the Volcanoes National Park bordering Uganda and the DRC. The mountain gorilla is endangered; there are an ‘estimated’ 1,063 in the wild. While this number seems precise for an estimation, with gorilla numbers this low, every individual counts.
So, to the effects of COVID on gorilla trekking and the famed primate trekking experiences; thankfully Rwanda continued to protect and research its endangered gorillas. Further, understanding that the great apes and humans share 98% DNA, with such genetic similarity any exposure to human illnesses – such as COVID – could have potentially catastrophic impact on gorillas.
Such that any person within contact of the gorillas/golden monkeys or chimps needs to have a PCR negative test within 72 hours. This could be arduous, but Rwanda has fine-tuned the process….so Deon and Suse were never put out by the five different tests they needed to complete for their treks. Otherwise COVID has left this beautiful country relatively unscathed.
Seeing these incredible apes animals in their natural habitat in Rwanda is a moment that really may well touch you for years and years to come. It is unlike any other experience out there and to explain why here is some information for us all to ponder about these magnificent mammals…
Mountain gorillas spend about a quarter of their day eating, mainly plants. Around 85% of their diet consists of leaves, shoots and stems, but gorillas can also eat larvae, snails, ants, and even roots, barks and rotting wood.
At night, mountain gorilla groups sleep together in nests on the ground or in trees made from foliage. Infants will share their mother’s nests, staying safe and warm.
Most mountain gorillas live in stable family groups of around ten individuals, with one dominant male and several females. Both males and females in the group care for their infants, hugging, carrying and playing with them.
The main threat to mountain gorillas is the degradation of their habitat. As the region’s population grows, the land is increasingly converted for agriculture and competition for limited natural resources leads to deforestation.