By Alex Gahima
A section of leaders from Kisoro district have been treated to a unique experience while visiting Nyakagezi gorilla family in Mount Mgahinga National Park in Nyarusiza Sub, county, Kisoro district.
The first team that had carried out their expedition yesterday was led by Chief Administrative officer Ismail Onzu Mussa along with several district councilors and technocrats.
Preparations were in high gear as the teams set off for Mount Mgahinga National Park by 7am equipped with plenty of drinking water and snacks.
Armed with walking sticks, the teams gently hike up to the starting point.
The team is greeted by a few smiles and waves from locals who, over the years have become accustomed to both local and foreign tourists eagerly making their way up to see the famous Mountain gorillas.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Warden and acting In-charge Moses Turinawe welcomes the team and advised the members to follow instructions to the letter, in order to enjoy the best experience possible.
Lead ranger Raulian Niwagaba quickly explains the guidelines and emphasizes that upon reaching the gorillas, each member must wear a face mask to prevent spread any infections to the gorillas.
“It is important that we maintain the health of our cousins in the forest that is why we emphasis everyone must wear a face mask. We discourage littering in the forest therefore everyone must maintain discipline and carefully place empty bottles and wraps back in their bags, Niwagaba explained.
After few hours of walking into file, rangers at the front and at the back, the moment arrived when the visiting team would get to see the gorillas.
Nyakagezi gorilla family is the only fully habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla national park.
It is currently composed of nine members; four silverbacks, two infants, two adult females and one Juvenile.
According to Niwagaba, visiting teams have up to one hour with the gorillas to take photos without a flash, to chat and be happy with them and this will have no negative impact to the gorillas.
He explains that upon completion of their breakfast, the males prefer to lay in the grass, playing and grooming one another.
Nyakagezi family is one of the easiest to track given the fact that it prefers a narrow home range for feeding, nesting, relaxing and recreation.
The family members include Mark aged 43, Rukundo 18 years, Ndugustse 28 years and Nshuti 32 years.
Niwagaba says Ugandans are highly encouraged to participate in this activity because it has many benefits for one’s health as well as appreciating Uganda’s God given beauty.
“For only 250,000 Ugandan shillings, East African nationals can get to experience the beauty of Mountain gorillas while our foreign friends have to pay up to 2 million Ugandan shillings”, Niwagaba explained.
Kisoro Chief Administrative officer Ismail Onzu Mussa says, the experience was unforgettable.
According to Onzu, the entire tour requires one to be mentally and physically prepared. He notes that the fresh air in the forest is unmatched.
He however hopes that the number of mountain gorillas in the national park can increase for other generations to come and see their magnificence.
Kirundo Sub County Councilor Louis Beshubeho, a man who has professed to be a naturist and culturist shocked many when he decided to go on the expedition without any shoes.
According to Beshubeho, the best way to honor the ancestors and his cousins (gorillas) is to meet and greet them without shoes, just like the people of the past who lived harmoniously with nature.
Beshubeho explained that the national park boasts of some many plant species that can be used to treat many illnesses and therefore more Ugandans need to embrace such activities.
A special treat was prepared by Volcanoes lodge which offers high end accommodation to clients.
Other district leaders including Security personnel led by Kisoro Resident District Commissioner Hajji Shafiq Sekandi have today visited the gorillas.