Rwanda Gorilla Family Migrates to Uganda

For over a week now, Rwanda’s Hirwa gorilla family has been living in Mgahinga gorilla national park southwestern Uganda. Over 20 members of Hirwa family have been residing in Mt Gahinga regions of Mgahinga gorilla national park having crossed from their original home in Volcanoes National Park. The existence of Hirwa gorilla fairly in Uganda was confirmed by Paddy Musiime, the UWA’s ICT head and photography at Mgahinga gorilla national park the recent migration of Hirwa Rwanda’s Hirwa family has for some weeks now been living Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National park. As of now, Mgahinga Gorilla Park has 2 gorilla families and hence 16 gorilla permits available every day. Travelers trekking gorillas in Mgahinga can therefore now trek Rwanda gorilla family from Uganda. The new gorilla members in Mgahinga gorilla national park are being managed along with Nyakagyezi gorilla family, the one and only family in Mgahinga Gorilla National park. Hirwa gorilla family migration to Uganda is not the first incident for a gorilla family to cross borders to a neighboring gorilla park. Initially Nyakagyezi gorilla family was difficult to trek due to its continuous movements from Mgahinga to Virunga national park in Congo. However today, Nyakagezi gorilla family has fully settled in Mgahinga and available for trekking every day.
Money collected from the sale of Hirwa gorilla permits currently living in Uganda is shared 50-50 between Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Much as a Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500, Hirwa gorilla family will now be visited for $600 i.e $300 for Uganda and $300 for Rwanda.

How do mountain gorillas cross borders?

Rwanda gorilla family migrates to Uganda
A gorilla family in Mgahinga Park

Whereas countries have borders, the endangered mountain gorillas have no knowledge about these boundaries. Overtime, gorillas have been seen crossing from one country to another unknowingly. Mountain gorillas move freely crossing the geographical borders of the Virunga conservation area shared by Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The altitude and vegetation in these gorilla parks are almost similar which favor the habitation of mountain gorillas.

About Hirwa family

Hirwa is one of Rwanda’s 10 habituated mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National park. The gorilla family has been living in the northern part of volcanoes national park. Hirwa is locally translated at “Lucky one” and has been one of the most visited gorilla families in Rwanda. Hirwa family split from Susa family following misunderstandings between Munyinga (the first leader of Hirwa family) and the then-dominant silverback of Susa A family. Munyinga decided to leave Susa A family and started his only family which is the Hirwa gorilla family of today. Just like other gorilla families in Uganda and Rwanda, the Hirwa gorilla group is visited by 8 people a day.

About Mgahinga gorilla National park

Located in Kisoro district southwestern Uganda, Mgahinga is the smallest park in Uganda covering Uganda’s portion of the Virunga Massif. Mgahinga Park is part of the Albertine rift valley bordered by Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is home to the famous Nyakagyezi gorilla family, the number one attraction in this area. Adding to gorillas, Mgahinga gorilla national park is home to the endangered golden monkeys which are also a must-see on your Uganda safaris to the southwestern region. A permit to trek golden monkeys costs $100 relatively cheap and affordable compared to $600 for gorilla trekking. Primate trekking (gorillas and golden monkeys) is the major tourist activity in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. More so, the small park is a Centre of Uganda hiking tours being home to three Virunga Volcanoes (Mt Gahinga, Mt Muhabura and Mt Sabyinyo) all located within the park. Hiking to the summit of any Virunga volcanoes offers you spectacular views of the parks, neighboring local communities and a fresh feeling. Travelers trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda are lucky to use a single East African visa which allows one to move and cross freely through Uganda and Rwanda. Interestingly, the Democratic Republic of Congo is yet to join the East African community which allows travelers to travel and tour within the three countries with a single East African visa.

About the Great Virunga Landscape

The greater Virunga landscape where Mgahinga gorilla national park is located comprise of 3 wildlife reserves, 8 national parks and 4 forest reserves which all shelter numerous birds, vegetation and wild animals. Three national parks namely Bwindi Forest, Rwenzori Mountains and Virunga national parks are UNESCO world heritage sites, Lake George is a Ramsar site while Queen Elizabeth National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Take a chance and trek Rwanda’s Hirwa gorilla family from Uganda. Contact Gorilla Trek Africa, book a Uganda gorilla safari to Mgahinga Gorilla National and be part of this memorable experience.

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