Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations
Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations are the different instructions that are put in place for a traveler to follow while embarking on their gorilla trekking safari so that they have a successful trip/experience. Mountain gorillas are endangered primates with about only 1000 of them still left in the world. They are only found in three countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Mountain gorillas inhabit the lush forests and mountainous ranges of the Virunga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Virunga massifs have Congo’s Virunga National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. With about 1000 mountain gorillas left, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the highest gorilla population with over a half.
The activity of hiking into these lush vegetation covers with ranging altitudes in search for the mountain gorillas is what is termed as gorilla trekking. Only fully habituated gorilla groups are available for tracking in all these parks. Mountain gorillas are endangered and are extremely vulnerable to human illnesses-they share 98% DNA after all. Mountain gorillas also become strained and agitated when they spend too much time with humans.
Gorilla trekking rules and regulations were put in place, therefore, for the main purpose of conserving mountain gorillas but also for the safety of the travelers. It should be noted that though habituated, mountain gorillas remain wild and do not really trust humans. They are also very protective of their young ones and they can go to any lengths to do so. Abiding by the gorilla trekking rules and regulations means that a traveler is contributing to the conservation of the mountain gorillas and their beautiful natural habitat.
Below are some of the gorilla trekking rules and regulations that travelers are advised to adhere to at all times;
Before departing for gorilla trekking:
- Only persons 15 and above get to go on a gorilla trekking experience. These young persons often carry childhood illnesses like mumps, measles, and the like which are very harmful to the mountain gorillas as they too can catch them.
- Only 8 persons per gorilla group per day are allowed. This is to minimize the behavioral disturbances, stress and possible risk of infections from humans.
- If you fell sick overnight before the trek, please volunteer to not go gorilla trekking. Another session can be organized for you or given a full refund.
- Make sure your hands are clean before you embark on gorilla trekking.
During the Trek and when with the gorillas;
- Keep your voices low during the trek and have an eye out for the other wildlife and plant life of the national parks.
- Time spent with the mountain gorillas is limited to only one hour per day. Once you encounter them, make proper use of your time with them
- All trekkers are to maintain at least seven meters away from gorillas at all times. If mountain gorillas do approach you, as do the inquisitive mountain gorillas, you are to slowly back away to at least five meters. If this is impossible to do, travelers are advised to remain calm and follow instructions from your ranger guide.
- Travelers are advised to remain in their groups. Do not spread out or worse, surround the gorillas.
- Body language is crucial, travelers are advised not to make anybody signs like raising hands, arms or point at the mountain gorillas. Do not even stare at the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas can take these as a threat to them.
- Visitors should not clear vegetation close to the gorillas just to have a clear view of them.
- If a traveler needs to sneeze or cough, turn away from the great primates and try to cover your nose and mouth. This is to minimize the spread of the airborne bacteria that you might unknowingly be transforming to them.
- Do not touch the gorillas even if they are in contact with you. They might mistake your touch as an aggressive act.
- If a silverback thumps his chest or any gorilla charges at you, do not run away. Keep calm and pay attention to the instructions of the ranger guide. These rangers are well trained on how to handle such instances, heed to them.
- Do not leave any waste material in the park. Carry with you all that you came with, including food wraps, wipes, and tissue.
- Do not use flash cameras for photography. These flashlights are a threat to the mountain gorillas and this could cause them to charge and be very aggressive.
- Smoking, eating, and drinking should be done at least 200 meters away from the mountain gorillas.
- All human wastes should be buried in a 30cm deep hole. Human waste like fasces can be highly infectious to the mountain gorillas and to all the other animal and plant life in the parks. A machete can be borrowed from the ranger and have it dugout.
The above gorilla trekking rules and regulations cut across to all the national parks that inhabit mountain gorillas. These rules and regulations are for the best interests of the traveler and for the conservation of the mountain gorillas given that they are so few of them left out there. Please adhere to these gorilla trekking rules and regulations at all times for sustainability. Contact a tour operator to help you put together an itinerary for the best gorilla trekking safari.