The mountain gorilla trekking is one of the globally trending adventure activities in Africa. The largest numbers of tourists travel to Uganda and Rwanda for an amazing gorilla adventure of a lifetime. Yearly, the number keeps increasing as the demand in the travel market is high globally. However, the critically endangered species have for long faced the threat of extinction as a result of poaching, wars, human encroachment and spread of human diseases.
The government and conservation authorities have therefore put much effort to device strict restrictions in order to protect the endangered Apes. Several rules and regulations have been established in conservation areas where the Giant Apes are inhabited to ensure that the negative human impact to the life of rare mountain gorilla is limited while the gorilla adventure is taking place.
Some of the rules and regulations any visitor needs to take note while planning for his or her trip on mountain gorilla trekking in any destination can be explained below.
The visitor’s health
Before taking up the gorilla trekking adventure, it is important that the visitor shows no sign of any illness. Mountain gorillas share 98% of human life DNA and hence they are very susceptible to human diseases.
Clients who intend to take gorilla trek need to be free from flu, cough or any sign of sneezing. Tourists are required to ensure they cover their nose and mouth while sneezing to prevent the spread of the bacteria that can easily cause the same effect to the critically endangered species. The park management has a mandate to deny any client with cases of illnesses to go for mountain gorilla trekking. It is important that the clients who are not in their better health status, they talk to park management or their tour guide in advance.
It is also very important that the clients visit the nearest bathrooms or places of convenience at the visitor center before setting out for gorilla trek. In case the clients want to help him or herself while in the forest, he or she should ensure the waste products are buried 30 cm deep. The life of a mountain gorilla is worth to be protected than any travel!
How many people are allowed to trek the gorillas?
Every visitor must possess the gorilla permit and only 8 visitors per day per gorilla group are allowed to visit a particular mountain gorilla family. The park management allows visitors 1 (one) hour encounter while with the mountain gorilla. All this is meant to reduce the ecological disturbance while enjoying the product. In case the tour guide attempts to disobey the rules by increasing the number of visitors to trek, it is advisable that the visitor reports to the management because that is the wrong act.
The minimum age of clients to be allowed to trek the mountain gorillas.
In order to go for gorilla trekking, the visitors should be 15 years and above. This is important as it helps to prevent risks of Giant Apes contracting juvenile illnesses
Is it allowed to take photos while trekking mountain gorillas?
Clients should never carry cameras that flash or if any one possesses a phone or camera with flash it is better he or she turns it off before taking the photos. It is the right of the visitor to take as many photographs as possible but it is better without the flash camera so as to avoid cases of irritating the Giant Apes.
What is the maximum distance to keep while with the gorillas?
All clients should observe a distance of 7 meters away from the gorillas. The tour guide will always keep reminding the clients about the distance and other instructions and all clients are required to abide by the instructions given. Clients are also required to take guard of their bags and other relevant items in safe custody out of reach of the young gorillas. All these rules and regulations try to reduce the spread of disease, stress and behavioral disturbance as well as reduce the possibility of gorillas charging against the clients and avoid too much habituation to human presence.
Clients should take note that the 7 meter rule is mostly a broken rule by many visitors due to too much excitement of the experience but clients need to observe maximum care. Anyone who breaks this rule may be discontinued from sighting the mountain gorillas!
At times the tour guides may draw the clients nearer to the critically endangered species with intentions of increasing their excitement and possibly gain from tips. The clients are advised to report such cases to the park authorities. It is important to understand that there are less than 900 individuals of critically endangered species in the world and the transmission of diseases can culminate their lives, please never let this happen.
Maintain the tight group
Clients are required to stay tight in their visiting group to avoid getting lost or surrounding the gorillas that may in turn threaten or cause the mountain gorillas to charge against human presence.
Visitors also should keep still, especially when the mountain gorillas charges against him or her and always follow the directives of the tour guide. This is because the mountain gorillas tend to perceive the body expression of the client as an aggressive behavior.
All gorilla trekkers are not allowed to cut the green vegetation next to the gorillas for better view. The tour guide will always help the visitors in accessing the clear view and in any obstruction by members; the client should inform the tour guide to find better view for him or her.
In case the male gorilla charges against the clients, you should not run away. Though the aggressiveness of the maintain gorilla is intense and scaring, the clients should stay motionless, keep low and look down to show kind of submission before the Giant Ape.
Visitors are not allowed to eat, smoke and drink within the range of 200 meters of the mountain gorillas. The food stuffs might be a source of infection and hence cause problems to the life of the mountain gorillas.
The tourists need to observe silent while trekking for the mountain gorillas; noise tends to chase them away. However, clients should feel free to ask the responsible tour guide as many questions as possible for their satisfaction about the product.
For any trash, the clients must ensure they dump them to required places and never to leave any trash in the park’s compound. Dustbins will always available for client’s trash at the park quarters and the visitor center.
In conclusion, the above gorilla trekking rules and regulations have positively impacted on the protection and conservation of the critically endangered Apes as well as other wildlife species as increase in the number of species have been recorded throughout the year. Proper observation of the established rules and regulations by the clients will enable one to attain exotic experiences in lifetime and ensure minimal spread of human diseases to the gorillas and the negative effect on the ecosystem.