KAMPALA – Uganda’s mountain gorilla population has been growing steadily over the years, becoming one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.
The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Mr Sam Mwandha, said Uganda now earns UGX60 billion annually in form of tourism from Mountain gorillas.
Mr Mwandha, while releasing the gorilla census results in Kampala on Monday, December 16, 2019, said that as of December 2018, the number of Mountain Gorillas in Uganda was 459 in 50 groups, an increase 15 per cent (400) from 2011.
The outgoing Minister of Tourism, Professor Ephraim Kamunti, said Uganda Mountain Gorilla populations are in Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable national parks.
“Combining the two populations, it’s more than accurate to assert that Uganda is home to more than 50 per cent of the World’s remaining the population of Mountain Gorillas,” he said.
Prof Kamutu added: “ Uganda is also home to 11 per cent of the world’s recorded species of birds constituting 50 per cent of Africa’s bird species richness; 7.8 per cent of the Global Mammal Diversity constituting 39 per cent of Africa’s Mammal Richness; 19 per cent of Africa’s amphibian species richness; 14 per cent of Africa’s reptile species richness, 1,249 species of butterflies and 600 species of fish. In Uganda we say, we have Big 5 plus 2 and more. The two being Gorillas and Chimpanzees.”
He explained that the rich biodiversity of Uganda is key to the national development and economic transformation.
“For example, tourism, which is largely dependent on biodiversity, is now the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda, bringing in $1.5 billion (23.5 per cent of the total exports) annually. The tourism sector provides 1.173 million jobs in Uganda (8 per cent of total employment), adding that Mountain Gorillas play a pivotal role as a prime product for Uganda’s tourism,” he said.