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Mountain Gorilla Conservation in Uganda is limited to 2 National Parks. Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi Impenetrable. These two parks are small islands of wilderness surrounded by densely populated farmland. This location and its surroundings have a great impact on the conservation of these great apes. These conservation challenges are handled by Uganda Wildlife Authority((UWA) which manages these parks as one conservation area termed - Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi by Kathleen Ricker
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi by Kathleen Ricker

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) is located in south-western Uganda between latitude 0o53’S to 1o8’S and longitude 29o35’ to 29o50’E and covers an area of 330.8 km2 It is situated on the edge of the Western Rift Valley, occupying the highest blocks of the Kigezi Highlands  The park lies along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at about 29 km by road to the north-west of Kabale town and 30 km north of Kisoro town. BINP is located in Rubanda County of Kabale District, Kinkizi County of Kanungu District, and Mutanda County of Kisoro District.

Bwindi is home to about half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). It has been managed as a protected area since 1932. The colonial government first gazetted it as a forest reserve and then as a game sanctuary in 1961. From then up to 1991, it was managed as both a forest reserve and game sanctuary, under the joint management of the Forest and Game departments of Uganda. In 1991, it was gazetted as a national park – this upgrading in status due to the forest being seen as a vital refuge for some of Uganda’s rarest and most threatened flora and fauna. Other reasons included the need to conserve ecological resources of high biodiversity value in the forested area and to protect the forest as an important economic resource (UWA, 2002). The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994. Historically, local communities have used Bwindi forest as a source of timber, minerals, non-timber forest resources, game meat and agricultural land. These activities led to significant losses of forest over a period up to the late 1980s. Since 1991, the forest’s tourism potential (mainly gorilla tourism) has been an additional direct economic value.