Mountain gorillas are sub-species of the eastern gorillas and inhabit the dense jungles of the unique four national parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the great Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda.
The world’s population of mountain gorillas currently stands at about 880 individuals. Bwindi National Park is blessed with the highest number of mountain gorillas, of about 400 while the rest are distributed among the three national parks. Volcanoes National Park has 10 habituated gorilla families, Virunga has eight families and one family in Mgahinga national park.
Visiting the mountain gorillas is the most popular tourist activity today and a big number of people are traveling from various countries across the world to East Africa to enjoy this exciting adventure. There is however, one thing that often blocks them and that is a gorilla permit.
A limited number of visitors of about eight individuals are allowed to visit a particular gorilla group on a given day which leaves visitors still yearning to trek again. The number of visitors wishing to trek the gorillas is high, increasing the demand for permits, which at the end affects the permit prices.
The following are the reasons why gorilla trekking permits are expensive;
The high prices are due to the high flow in of visitors to see gorillas in their natural habitats. The visitors to these natural habitats bring in a lot of money, though big crowds may pose a danger to conservation since trekkers destabilize the ecosystem by trampling on the vegetation.
Part of the profits from gorilla trekking is extended back to the frontline communities in terms of services, for example road constructions, health services, provision of clean water to motivate them to conserve the gorillas more and not to involve themselves to bad acts of poaching.
Sharing with the local communities has fostered a positive attitude in the locals towards conserving gorillas, which has reduced the human-wildlife conflicts in this area.
Since gorillas are endangered species, being about 880 mountain gorillas only surviving in the tropical rain forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks, volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park, there are limited gorilla permits to serve high number of travelers all interested to trek gorillas, which calls for high costs of gorilla permits.
There is need to pay the security rangers to protect them and if they are not guarded, they can be trafficked, poached, attacked by bad people and killed by diseases such as Ebola, flu if not treated. By so doing, high price is attached on the gorilla permits in order to meet conservation and protection needs of gorillas.
Gorilla permits are charged highly to use part of the money to conserve the gorilla habitats. Once the visitors get involved in the trekking, there is always over stepping of grass, which leads to vegetation trampling hence destroying gorilla habitats, dumping of rubbish by visitors like water bottles. All that to be sorted, gorilla permits are charged highly to make gorilla habitats clean and appealing.
Part of the money collected in gorilla permits is also diverted to pay people who monitor the well-being of mountain gorillas. Each country has a responsible tourism body that oversees gorilla conservation and tourism at large. These include Uganda wildlife authority for Uganda and Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda. These bodies hire professional people to carry out daily monitoring of mountain gorillas, their feeding, health, habituation processes and moving habits.
Every now and then, groups of trackers hike into the forest with a task of checking the gorilla’s health, the tourism police ensuring the safety of the endangered mountain gorillas plus the armed rangers. This all calls for a rise in the charges of gorilla trekking permits to facilitate the activities.
The love to reduce frequent contact between human beings and mountain gorillas bring about a hike in the permit prices. Mountain gorillas are wild animals that do not need to be too close to human being because at the end of it, it may change their natural being. High price is attached to the gorilla permits so that only a few tourists get to visit them and reduce on dangers of mass gorilla tourism, whose diverse effects are unbearable.
Gorilla safaris are extra ordinary; there is nowhere a visitor can ever encounter gorillas in natural habitats except in the four national parks of Mgahinga, Bwindi, Volcanoes and Virunga. Mountain gorillas have no alternative and thus, primate lovers tend to book gorilla safaris at all costs.