Gorillas are among the world’s most protected species and also Uganda’s most popular tourist attractions. It should be noted that Gorillas share 98% DNA with humans which makes them susceptible to human diseases and with their limited numbers,to subsequent extinction. Considering the aforementioned, the Ugandan government put in place rules and guidelines to protect both human trekkers and gorillas.
It is important to note that the Government of Uganda issues Gorilla permits which cater for conservation of the said animals and also develop infrastructure in the trekking communities.
There are several rules and guidelines that govern Gorilla trekking and among them include:-
- When going on a Gorilla trekking experience, one ought to put on the right gear in form of waterproof boots to maneuver through the muddy trail and a pair of jeans as well as a long sleeved shirt/t.shirt in order to protect ones skin from branch scratches and nettle burns among others.
- Gorilla trekkers also need to keep at least seven (7) meters from the mountain gorillas so as to protect both human beings and the said animals from catching diseases and illnesses.
- Also to note is that any person attempting a gorilla trekking experience should be at least fifteen (15) years or older and tourists younger than that will be provided with alternative activities.
- Gorilla trekkers should also make sure that they do not have a cold or any other infectious illness before embarking on a Gorilla trekking experience.
- In case a tourist on a trekking experience needs to ease themselves while in the wilderness, it is imperative that they burn and bury their waste at least thirty (30) meters deep.
- While Gorilla trekking, tourists are prohibited from eating or smoking.
- In case one is in the presence of a Gorilla family and they need to sneeze or cough, they ought to ensure that their faces are turned away from the Gorillas in order to curtail transmission of such coughs and colds from humans.
- It should also be noted that visits to Gorilla families are limited to one hour per Gorilla group per day and that the guides could at any point cut short the visit basing on their animal expertise.
- For tourists taking photographs, they should endeavor to avoid flash photography so as not to agitate the Gorillas.
- Eight (8) visitors are allowed on each trekking experience in order to limit emotional disturbances of the Gorillas and subsequent exposure to illness.
- Gorilla trekkers are always urged not to leave behind any rubbish since it could pollute the environment and possibly host disease carrying vectors that could harm both humans and Gorillas.
- Trekkers also need to keep low voices so as not to agitate the mountain Gorillas.
- Trekkers should also not stare at the Mountain Gorillas since this could be deemed as aggressive by the animals.Trekkers are also advised not to ever run from a Gorilla in case one ever approaches.
- Guides and game rangers are usually in charge of the trekking experiences so tourists are advised to heed to the directions and guidance of the said guides in order to avoid any mishaps and/or attacks from the Gorillas.
- If one falls sick on or before the trekking day with a contagious disease like flue or a cold among others, he/she ought to stay away from the trekking adventure to avoid passing the disease onto the Gorillas. Most National Parks with Gorillas often have incentives to ensure that sick trekkers stay away from the experience.
- While with the Gorillas, trekkers are advised to avoid unnecessary movements and noise in order not to scare the animals but are free to inquire from the guides about any issues pertaining to the Gorillas.
The aforementioned rules and guidelines are meant to safeguard the lives and well being of both human beings and Gorillas and are therefore paramount while embarking on a Gorilla trekking experience.