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The impact of Corona 19 pandemic on gorilla tourism

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Sep 17, 2021 11:38 AM EDT

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Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

(Photo: Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay )

The impact of Corona 19 pandemic on gorilla tourism

All human infections easily spread amongst primates especially gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. A case in point, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in January 2021, had 3 gorillas infected with Covid 19 by an asymptomatic keeper. The 49-year-old troop leader with a heart condition almost succumbed to pneumonia - thanks to monoclonal and antibiotics, he was able to recover.

According to the scientific Journal - People and Nature, primates are highly susceptible to Covid 19 infection. So far Covid 19 has been confirmed in cats, dogs, tigers, lions, and mink. The greatest fear now, is that humans are able to get closer to the animals even in the wild. Selfie-taking tourists  visiting Africa for mountain gorilla tours are a big threat to mountain gorillas in Bwindi Forest, Mgahinga, Volcanoes and Virunga national parks. The fact that the mountain gorillas have have highly habituated to human presence, tourists no longer keep the recommended distance. This can be evidence by the selfies taken and posted. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends at least 23 meters (7 Meters) away from animals and visitors should be wearing masks. Rwanda and Uganda still observe this requirement. However, in the Virunga national park, DR Congo, only masks are emphasized. Gorilla tourism is essential as funds for sustaining conservation are generated from this activity. Besides, tourists by visiting the animal sanctuaries, scare away poachers thus enhancing conservation.  In 2016 and 2017 a catastrophe befell chimps in Kibale national park in Uganda, an outbreak of human respiratory illnesses wiped away 25 individuals in a single chimpanzee group and left 44 % of the groups' 205 members sick.

For Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo, gorilla tourism is a crucial component of the forex earning. If stringent measures are not put in place, this leaves gorilla safaris with a brink future! Rwanda has made it mandatory for tourists wishing to go gorilla trekking undertake a PCR test for Covid 19 and observing strict gorilla watching guidelines.  

 

Guidelines of Gorilla Trekking During Covid19 Pandemic

Travelers coming to visit mountain gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are highly advised to follow the Standard Operating Procedures to ensure safety.  Rwanda Development Board and Uganda Wildlife Authority have designed new rules and regulations of gorilla trekking in Bwindi Forest and the Virunga Conservation area for the safety of both travelers and primates against the deadly virus.  The guidelines of post covid19 gorilla trekking safaris include:

  • Selfie taking is not allowed. Its evident that travelers taking selfies with mountain gorillas do not observe the 10 meter distance as required by conservation bodies.
  • Travelers MUST be 15 years and above
  • Keep a distance of 10 meters away from the endangered gorillas. The distance was moved from 7 to 10 meters to avoid close contacts
  • All travelers visiting gorillas MUST test negative for covids19. Mandatory covid19 testing is done at the airport and land borders
  • Mandatory face masking. Every traveler must have a facemask covering up his /her nose and mouth
  • Mandatory hand washing. Travelers are required to thoroughly wash hands at the start of the trek with clean running water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Temperature screening is a must at the start of every gorilla trek. Any traveler with high temperatures is not allowed to visit gorillas
  • Travelers are advised to continually sanitize during gorilla trek to keep safe
  • Spend strictly an hour with the endangered gorillas. This time is counted from the time travelers set their eyes on the gorillas
  • Only 8 people are allowed to visit one gorilla family everyday
  • Do not trek gorillas when sick. The fact that mountain gorillas share over 99% of human genes, the species are easily affected by human diseases especially communicable diseases.
  • Avoid direct eye contacts with the endangered gorillas. These apes are shy animals which will be irritated by the direct look into their eyes
  • Do not use flash light camera when taking photos of the endangered gorillas.
  • Do not eat or drink in presence of the endangered gorillas
  • Keep your voices low when with the gorillas

How to book a post covid19  gorilla safari

Gorilla Trek Africa is at your service to book and arrange a customized post coivd19 gorilla trekking safari to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  with 0ver 15 year experience in arranging and running gorilla and other wildlife safaris in Africa as ranked  number one by trip advisor, AAS is your trusted gorilla safari company. Our experienced  driver guides give you all the information you require about gorillas and other wildlife experiences. We all offer you all the information you require for your Africa safari, what to pack, when to visit, where to sleep, tips and guidelines to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable  gorilla safari in Africa.

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