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Uganda welcomes seventh addition of gorilla baby boom

Uganda only had three gorilla births in 2019 but is hailing a baby boom during the lockdown

Uganda welcomes seventh addition of gorilla baby boom www.africanstand.com
Ruterana holds her newly born baby gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park CREDIT: Uganda Wildlife Authority/REUTERS

(African Stand) — Uganda has declared an unprecedented gorilla baby boom after it welcomed a seventh addition to the country’s endangered mountain gorilla population since January.

There are only about a thousand mountain gorillas left in the world. Some 400 are found in Uganda’s parks with the rest split between neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Five babies were born in the past six weeks alone, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a development that gives conservationists experts hope.

Uganda had only three gorilla births in 2019.

Some feared the Covid-19 outbreak in Africa would negatively affect the animals, but the opposite has proved to be true.

Bashir Hangi, a spokesperson for UWA, called the increased number of births ‘highly unusual’.

“It’s an incredible blessing,” Mr. Hangi told Reuters. “As conservationists, we’re chest-thumping, we are excited.”

Mountain gorillas face danger from incessant poaching in the region.

Uganda welcomes seventh addition of gorilla baby boom www.africanstand.com
A fully grown Gorilla holding its baby in Bwindi National Park CREDIT: AP Photo/Uganda Wildlife Authority

In July, Uganda sentenced a man to an 11-year jail term for the killing of Rafiki, a 25-year-old silverback that led the Nkuringo family, and popular with tourists visiting the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

There is not yet a clear reason for the recent baby boom, UWA says, but the increased births have come after Covid-19 lockdowns forced tourism to a halt, offering peace and quiet for the primates.

Tourism is one of the key sources of revenue for the East African country, earning it $1.6bn (£1.2bn) in 2019. Gorillas are the main pull in Bwindi, one of Uganda’s popular attractions.

The dense forest is also home to elephants, antelope, and other wildlife that people come from all over the world to see.

Poaching incidents in Uganda spiked during a four-month lockdown that eased in July. Now, small groups of masked tourists are being let into parks as the country slowly opens up.

The Rushegura gorilla family, where the most recent baby was born, is one of more than 20 gorilla groups in Bwindi. The family has grown to 18 members this year.

Johnny Mapesa

Written by Johnny Mapesa

Johnny Mapesa is an award-winning Kenyan journalist who is driven with passion and has worked for several media brands both locally and internationally and currently working with African Stand.

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