Each year, so many tourists travel to Africa to see gorillas. Most of them travel to Uganda and Rwanda, with only a few visiting Congo.
I have had a few clients ask if gorilla trekking is ethical. I am here to answer this and will try to break down all the points and also enlighten you about the main benefit of mountain gorilla trekking.
The 2018 gorilla census announced an increase in the number of gorillas. For once in very many years, the number of mountain gorillas surpassed 1000, writing these apes off the list of endangered animals.
So is gorilla trekking ethical?
First of all, if it wasn’t for gorilla trekking, chances are high mountain gorillas would be no more in this planet.
The money you spend buying gorilla permits; $1500 in Rwanda, $600 in Uganda and $400 in Congo is used to conserve these animals. Only a small portion benefits the community.
So buying a gorilla trekking permit is one way of giving back to gorillas. This same money is used to protect the habitat of these animals and protect them from acts like poaching.
So in all ways, gorilla trekking is very ethical but only if done right.
You should note that Mountain Gorillas share over 98% of human DNA and can easily contract the same diseases as humans. So maintaining an eight meter distance around them is a good preventive measure for their conservation.
Visitors are also not allowed to take photos with flashlights on as it frightens gorillas.
When a gorilla charges on you, you should look down. Its a sign of respect and will often calm them down. It shows them that you have lost the challenge.
Another important factor is not looking straight in the eyes of these gorillas. Its a sign of challenge will often make them charge towards you in order to defeat you.
Prior to your gorilla trekking trip, you will be briefed about all this. There is always a morning briefing meeting that lasts for about 30 minutes. It instills tourists with knowledge of gorilla trekking within a short span but can never inform you about everything.
You should always endeavor to carry out research about gorillas months before your trip so that you learn how to respect these animals and not hard or frighten them in their natural habitat.
I have a couple of informative articles on this website that explain so much about mountain gorillas. You could search the website for relevant information or contact me on info[at]ugandatravelblog.com if you need any information that you can’t find online.
Ethical gorilla trekking begins with you. You should never forget this.