Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

A remote pocket of rain forest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest of Uganda is home to half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. The Bwindi Park is now the most popular region for gorilla safaris in Uganda and has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site. This park is made up of about 200 square miles of dense rainforest and thick jungle vegetation – an ideal habitat for the mountain gorillas.

The other park that offers great opportunities for Uganda gorilla safaris is the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This part is situated on the extreme southwest corner of Uganda on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains that also border Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regardless of which park you visit, gorilla trekking in Uganda affords you a once in a lifetime experience. The thrill of trekking through the dense foliage as you track the Uganda gorillas is one not soon to be forgotten. On your forest trails; you may also come across some of the other natural inhabitants of the area, including diverse bird species, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, bush buck, duiker and maybe even leopard.

The Rewards of Uganda Gorilla Safaris

The search through the dense rainforest could take anything from 1 hour to 4 hours, depending on where the Uganda gorillas choose to move to on that particular day. Although they do have daily habits, they are constantly on the move in search of food, so do not stay long in one particular place, unless it is to rest for the night.

Visits to the family groups of gorillas are usually limited to 8 people per group and the visit typically lasts an hour. The trek is quite challenging, but once you come into close proximity with these gentle distant relatives of ours, the labours of the journey are soon forgotten. Sitting in quiet observation of the Uganda gorillas as they go about their daily life, playing, eating and caring and raising their young, is a truly magical experience.

Conservation History of the Uganda Gorillas

Until 1994, Uganda gorilla safaris were a major tourist attraction. However, when the civil war broke out in neighbouring Rwanda, political unrest and bloodshed was rife, leaving thousands of people dead and millions displaced from their homes. Many of the victims of the war spilled over into Uganda seeking refuge, which unfortunately contaminated the natural habitat of the mountain gorillas. Following the turmoil that erupted in 1999 when Uganda was victim to Rwanda rebel attacks in the Bwindi Park, even more gorilla lives were put at risk.

Poaching of the Uganda gorillas was also on the rise and with no strict conservation rules in place, many gorillas were killed and the species diminished radically. Over time, tighter policies have been implemented to protect and prevent further incidents that could potentially harm or inhibit the preservation if this species. Since these protocols have been set in place and thanks to the efforts of various conservation organisations, the Uganda gorilla numbers have increased.

Uganda Gorilla Safari Guidelines

On your Uganda gorilla safari, you will always be accompanied by a park ranger and trackers. These professionals will gladly impart their knowledge of the area and the gorillas, as they have invested much time conducting the tours and spending time in the company of this incredible species.

Half of the fun of gorilla trekking in Uganda is trying to follow the families of habituated gorilla through the dense foliage of the equatorial forests. The gorillas are constantly on the move in search of food which means that you will have to be prepared for quite a tiring but adventuresome trip!

There are roughly about 700 mountain gorillas left in the world, which is why seeing them in the wild really is an incredibly special opportunity.

Interesting Uganda Gorilla Facts:

o Mountain gorillas are diurnal – they are generally active during the hours between 6am – 6pm, which is why gorilla trekking in Uganda is conducted within these hours.

o As male gorillas age, they develop a saddle of grey or silver coloured hair on their backs, for this reason, male Uganda gorillas are referred to as “silverbacks”.

o Every evening, the mountain gorillas build a new nest to sleep in for the night using surrounding vegetation.

o Uganda gorillas can be identified by their nose prints, which are unique to each individual.

o The adult male Uganda gorillas have more pronounced bony crests on their skulls, giving them a more conical shape in comparison to the females.

o Gorillas that live in the Virunga Mountains have longer and darker hair than other gorilla species. This hair allows them to adapt to their living environment in a range of temperatures, including very cold climates.

Gorillas in the Mist

Gorillas are found in tropical rain forest lowland, highland, mountain slopes and bamboo forests in Africa, mainly along the equator.

Class: Mammalia (Mammals)

Order: Primates

Family: Hominidae

Genus: Gorilla

Species: Gorilla gorilla (western gorilla)

Subspecies:

o Gorilla gorilla gorilla (western lowland gorilla)

o Gorilla gorilla diehli (Cross River gorilla)

Species: Gorilla berengei (eastern gorilla)

Subspecies:

o Gorilla berengei berengei (mountain gorilla)

o Gorilla berengei graueri (Grauer’s gorilla)

o Gorilla berengei (Bwindi gorilla)

The largest of all primates, gorillas are peaceful, family-oriented and plant-eaters. Yes, that’s right! They are herbivores, eating mainly leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, and roots.

You may ask, how in the world do they get to weigh from 200 to 400 pounds (91 to 181 kilograms). They eat a lot of food. The average adult male can eat up to 40 lbs foraging in 1 day! That’s a lot of eating.

* Note: My husband is an decathlete, and when we organize his meal plans and try to increase his protein, we always try to keep in mind that many of the world’s largest animals, especially mammals, are not meat-eaters. That’s right…Just think about it: rhinoceros, cows, buffalo, elephants, giraffes…they are all herbivores. It is just amazing that they can get so large, and maintain that size, just by eating plants! Wow!

Troops are lead by one single male called a “silverback”. He is responsible for everything concerning his troop. This means the safety and well-being of between 5-30 individuals, all ride upon his shoulders. Now, that is a big job!

He leads them, every morning, to a new food source, so they don’t deplete any one area. Then, the whole gang, minus the youngsters, gather together leaves, twigs and branches to create for themselves a day nest, to have a morning nest. I say “minus the youngsters” because this is their playtime! They get to run around, and act like monkeys…LOL

* Fun Fact: Gorillas never sleep in the same nest twice!

The troop will eat, again, until their bedtime, which means, you guessed it, another nest-making session!

There are times that other males will challenge a silverback to take control of the troop. In this instance, the males will stand upon their feet, beat their chest, bare their teeth, scream, and then charge forward. He may even use branches to shake at the intruder to scare him off. Often, these confrontations can lead to severe injury or even death.

Gorillas are an endangered species.

Facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Gorillas are at the top of their food chain. “So, why are they endangered?”, you may ask. Well, poachers kill gorillas for bushmeat, and for trinkets they can sell on the black-market. Their habitat is being deforested as we speak, and forcing them into smaller and smaller areas, in which it is difficult for them to find food, as it is being depleted. This is due to human encroachment and development.

What You Can Do:

1. You can adopt a gorilla at WWF or at the Dian Fossey’s Gorilla Fund.

2. Anytime you buy wood or furniture that came from Africa, ask if that wood has been certified. This means that the this wood was farmed in ways that are approved by forestry experts. By standing up to ask this question, you are encouraging logging companies in Africa to follow the wildlife laws instituted to protect these gorillas, and other African animals.

3. Become a member of an animal conservation network.

4. You can donate to animal refuges.

5. Support local groups or fundraisers that are fighting to save endangered animals.

by Kimberly Edwards

The Raw Food Bodybuilding Diet – What You Need To Know

Since the 1950’s, there has been a debate among those in the physical culture regarding cooked vs. raw food diets. Among natural bodybuilders, this debate still goes on. Some of the arguments are that you need meat protein to build muscle.

Hemp Seed Powder and Wheat Grass are much richer sources of protein than meat which has been treated with hormones and cooked and difficult for your body to digest.

The advantages for raw food diet for a bodybuilder are immeasurable. A raw food diet provides more lifting strength and you are able to have less rest time between sets. Vital nutrients such as enzymes, minerals and vitamins have been depleted from the foods through the cooking process.

If you take a look at the largest consumers of raw food, you will see the strongest animals such as the gorilla, rhino, hippo, elephant, giraffe and more. They seem to be able to build strong muscle without eating cooked foods, wonder how that works?

A Gorilla’s diet is 100 percent raw as are the diets of the other animal’s listed. You can be healthy and build a strong, well-sculpted body with raw organic fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and sunflower seeds.

Cooked foods are known to clog the body’s digestive system which puts a strain and saps energy from other parts of your body. It takes a strong mind and will to be successful at a raw bodybuilding diet. Cooked foods blow up, or give an inflated look to muscles that only last for a temporary time. A foundation needs to be built for muscle to grow, and this can only be done with all natural proteins and carbs that are found in raw, uncooked foods.

Just observing the nutrients in fruit alone is enough to convince you of the benefits and nutrients to your body. When I speak of fruit, I mean botanical fruit. Bontanical fruit is seeded fruit that regenerates within itself to create more fruit. These include but not limited to avocado, cucumber, red and green peppers, squash, and tomatoes.

Continue your research on this website on the benefits and health advantages of a raw food diet versus a cooked food diet for your bodybuilding regime. Keep a journal and document how you feel with your raw food diet, you will be able to determine what foods help you the most.