Four Mountain gorillas from the Hirwa group die in Mgahinga National Park.

Four Mountain gorillas from the Hirwa gorilla group die in Mgahinga National Park after being struck by lightning. Among the four deceased mountain gorillas was a pregnant female, alongside two other female gorillas and one male gorilla. The mountain gorillas were reported dead by a team of conservationists in the park, who said that the gorillas were found with ‘gross lesions’ on their bodies which indicate that they were electrocuted.

Mgahinga National Park is one of the only four national parks in the world were tourists can see mountain gorillas in the wild. Other national parks include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, Virunga national park in Congo and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda, in Kisoro district. The park is one of the smallest national parks in Uganda covering a total surface area of 34 square kilometers.

Mgahinga national park in Uganda derives its name from the local word ‘Gahinga,’ which means a pile of volcanic stones cleared for farmland, at the foot of the volcanoes. It was first established as a game sanctuary in 1930, to protect the endangered primate species such as mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park was later gazetted as a national park in 1991.

The death of the four mountain gorillas from the Hirwa group in Mgahinga national park comes as a huge loss to the national park. The national park originally had one habituated gorilla group which is the Nyakagezi gorilla group. The group was later joined by the Hirwa group which migrated from Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, hence making it the second habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga national park.

The four mountain gorillas that died were part of the 17 member Hirwa family that is being monitored by authorities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Currently, there are only 13 members in the Hirwa group and are being closely monitored by authorities.

Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive secretary of the GVTC, told the BBC in a press release that the news of the death of the four mountain gorillas was extremely sad and that the potential and contribution of the three deceased females to their population was immense. He also added that samples from the post-mortem are currently being tested and confirmation of the cause of death of the mountain gorillas is expected within the next 21 days.

The death of these four gorillas brings the total population of mountain gorillas down to only 1000 individuals. In 2018, a population census that was carried out indicated that there were a total of 1004 mountain gorillas living within the Virunga Conservation Area. In the same year, the mountain gorilla was removed from the list of critically endangered species after conservation efforts against poaching of the species finally paid off.

Mountain gorillas are most trekked primate species in the world. Gorilla trekking activities can be done in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park is done at a fee of USD 600 and USD 700 dollars respectively. Gorilla trekking activities in the park start at the visitor center in Ntebeko, at exactly 7am. Trekkers are briefed by the head ranger at the park and placed into trekking groups which are composed of 8 members only; actual trekking beings at 8am.

Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga national park can be done throughout the year. However, the best time for visitors to trek gorillas in the park would be during the two dry seasons; which are between mid-December- February and June- October. During this period, it is much easy for visitors to hike through the forests and walk the trail paths in the national park.

There are some accommodation facilities that offers visitors trekking gorillas in Mgahinga national park and these include; Lake Mutanda Chameleon Hill Lodge, Kisoro Traveler’s Rest Hotel, River Mucha Hotel, Amajambere Iwacu camp and Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Safari Lodge among others.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can be accessed by road and air. The national park is located about 494km from Kampala City via Kabale-Kisoro; which is about 8 hours of driving till you get to the park’s headquarters.

Alternatively, travelers can fly from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro Airstrip which takes about an hour. The Kisoro Airstrip is close to Mgahinga national park and hence is a convenient means of travel.

Book with us a gorilla trekking tour to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and get a chance to trek the Hirwa gorilla family in the park.

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