Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable national park is located in the thick rain forests of southwest Uganda where montane and lowland forests meet at coordinates of 1.0337° S, 29.6932°. Bwindi impenetrable national park covers an area of 321 km² with altitude which varies from 1,190m -2607m above sea level. Its weather receives a lot of rain with two seasons that is long season from September to November and short season in March to May. The park has a dense vegetation cover which consists of newtonia, entandrophragma, podocarpus gracilior tree species on swamp edges neighboring towns of buhoma and Nkuringo bordering Virunga volcanoes and democratic republic of Congo in east
Bwindi impenetrable national park in kanungu district is very prominent for gorilla trekking and offers other activates like bird watching, nature walks in trails in numerous trails. Bwindi impenetrable national park was declared a conservation area in 1991 and listed on UNESCO natural world heritage sites in 1994 because of its ecological potential.
With the aim of providing protection to mountain gorilla Bwindi impenetrable national park was first designed as a forest reserve in 1932 with two blocks (north block as kayonga crown forest reserve and south block as kasatora crown forest reserve) with 207 square kilometers. Two reserves were joined together and enlarged in 1942 to form impenetrable central crown forest under control of Uganda’s game and forest departments.
Impenetrable central crown forest was later designated to be an animal sanctuary in 1964, its name changed to impenetrable central forest reserve. Later the two forest reserves were to become one main big reserve of 321 sq. km and continued to be managed as a game sanctuary and forest reserve.in 1991 impenetrable central forest reserve was renamed and designated to Bwindi impenetrable national park together mgahinga gorilla reserve and Rwenzori mountains reserve covering 33.08 sq. km.
Declaring of Bwindi a protected area for flora and fauna in 1991 resulted into numerous negative impacts to the batwa pygmy who settled in these forests as home, they were evicted with no compensation left to wander around, became squatters in the lands of bakiga and bafumbira and they were never allowed access to the forests again.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a source for five rivers that is river Ivi, munyaga, ihihizo, ishasha and Ntengyrere which flow to Lake Edward, mutanda and bunyonyi. Bwindi Forest is one of the richest ecological systems in Africa rich in flora and fauna with include:
- More than 120 mammals like elephants, chimpanzees, antelopes, red tailed and colobus monkeys, on top of 400 mountain gorilla (half of world’s population) and monkeys.
- 350 species of birds like Short-tailed Warbler, Rusty-faced woodland Warbler, Kivu Ground Thrush, Dusky Crimson Wing, White-tailed Blue Monarch, horn bills which are very rare in Africa.
- 400 species of plants (rainforest trees of over 25000 years old) including the most endangered Guineo-congolian flora that is brown mahogany and brazzei longipedicellate species.
Bwindi impenetrable national park is a well-recognized sanctuary for mountain gorilla with habituated groups in different gorilla trekking sectors including:
Buhoma region: Was the first area to be opened for gorilla trekking in 1991.it has 3 groups which include.
- Mubare family group with originally 11 members(6 female adults,1 sub adult,3 infants) under Ruhondeza as a leader , by the time of his death ,the group was left 5 member under the leadership of kanyonyi in 2018
- Habinyanja gorilla group with 17 members, it is the biggest group in buhoma led by Makara with 5 adult females 1 sub adult, 3 juveniles, 6 infants, 1 black back and 1 silver back.
- Rushegura group of 16 members under the leadership of kabukojo with 4 black backs, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants.
Ruhija region: Ruhija group has 3 habituated gorilla families
- Oruzogo gorilla group with 17 members, it is led by bakwate with 1 silver back,5 adult female,2 black backs,2 sub adults,1 juvenile and 5 infants.
- Bitukura group with 13 members led by ndahura with 4 silver backs, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles and 3 infants.
- Kyaguliro group a family of 20 members. After the death Rukina the leader being struck by lightening to death in April 2015 he was by mukiza a young inexperience silver back as a leader.he was overthrowned by Rukara an immigrant adult silver back from bitukura which resulted into split of the group into two that is group A with 1 silver back, 2 black backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants under Rukara and B with 1 silver back,4 adult females,1 sub adult and 4 infants under mukiza.
- Nshongi gorilla group has 7 members and is headed by bweza with 3 adult females, 1 sub adult, and 1 juvenile and 1 infant.
- Mishaya group has 12 members and it is headed by Mishaya silver back.
- Kahungye group with 17 members under the leadership of Rumaz with 3 adult females,3 silver backs,3 black backs,2 infants,3 juveniles and 3 sub adults. The name kahugye comes from a hill in Rushaga area.
- Busingye group has 9 members Busingye group came into existence after breaking away from kahungye gorilla group with 3 infants and 1 sub infant.
- Bwenza mountain gorilla group has 23 mountain gorilla groups, it is led by kakono with 2 silver backs,4,black backs,1 sub adult,3 adult females, two infants.
Nkurigo:Has one gorilla region (12 members) with 2 silverbacks,1 black back,2 adult females,2 sub-adults,3 juveniles and 2 infants.
Bwindi impenetrable national park has many attractions for example high slippery valleys, steep landscape and many activities which include:
Bird watching: Bwindi impenetrable national park is home for over 350 bird species, birding occurs along the trails of buhoma waterfall, bamboo zones, mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhiji trail and many more parts where birds like African Emerald Cuckoo, Dark caped Bulbul, White-tailed Blue Flycatchers and Red-headed Bluebill are viewed.
Gorilla trekking: Mountain gorilla trekking was introduced in 1993 and since then Bwindi is the most famous popular tourist destination for gorillas in Africa. Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park requires tourists to be in possession of a gorilla trekking permit which is purchased at Uganda wildlife authority. Gorilla trekking requires must haves i.e gorilla trekking essentials like long sleeve shirts, long trousers, boot trekking shoes and a walking stick and most important there are regulations governing tourist interactions while in the forests for example staying 7 meters from gorillas, not going into the park when you’re ill.
Batwa trail: The batwa trail in Bwindi impenetrable national park showcases the culture and the ancient life of the batwa pygmy people before their eviction from the forests. Batwa were hunters-gatherers and the first occupants of Bwindi forests before the arrival of Bantu cultivators.
Mountain bike ride: Mountain bike riding is very sensational as you climb through buhoma mountain trail to the peak. On the Ivy river trail you get to see wildlife and vegetation. Bikes are offered by mountain bike ride for women community support group.
Nature walks: Nature walks take place in a number of trails that is Ruizi river trail, Muzabajirro trail, Rushurra trail, munyaga river trail bamboo trail were many attractions like rivers, animals like chimpanzees, monkeys and different tree species are witnessed.
Buhoma village walk: Buhoma village walk in Bwindi impenetrable national park is a 3 hour cultural walk in which tourists get to learn culture and the ways of people living in buhoma, from preparation of local food, meeting traditional healers to people making crafts with the guidance of a well-informed tour guide.
Community tour: Community tour is also one of the amazing retreats in Bwindi impenetrable national park which include cultural encounters for example Rubugira village walk, visiting Nkuringo cultural Centre, buniga forest natural walk