Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in south western Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Before getting a National park status, two blocks of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were designated as Crown Forest Reserves in 1932 and stretched on an area of about 298Km².
In 1932, two blocks of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were designated as Crown Forest Reserves. The Northern block was designated as the “Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve,” and the Southern block designated as the “Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve.” These reserves had a combined area of 207 square kilometres (80 sq mi). In 1942, the two Crown Forest Reserves were combined and enlarged, and renamed the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest. This new protected area covered an area of 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi) and was under the joint control of the Ugandan government’s game and forest departments. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve was set up in 1942 before it was later gazetted as a national park in 1992.
Later in 1964, it was turned into an animal sanctuary in order to protect the mountain gorillas. The reserve was designated as an animal sanctuary in order to provide extra protection to its mountain gorillas and renamed the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve. In 1966, two other forest reserves became part of the main reserve, increasing its area to almost 321 square kilometres (124 sq mi). The park continued to be managed as both a game sanctuary and forest reserve.
In 1991, the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve, along with the Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and the Rwenzori Mountains Reserve, were designated as a national park and named it the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It covered an area of 330.8 square kilometres (127.7 sq mi). The national park was declared in part to protect a range of species within it, most notably the mountain gorilla.
The reclassification of the park has a large impact on the Batwa pygmy people, who were evicted from the forest and no longer permitted to enter the park or access its resources. Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993, and the park became a popular tourist destination. In 1994, a 10-square-kilometre (3.9 sq mi) area was incorporated into the park.
In 1993 due to the existence of almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas; the parks management, the Uganda National Parks which later turned into Uganda Wildlife Authority bought a piece of land from the Batwa people-first keepers of Bwindi forest that stretched a further 4Km² and was incorporated to the park. In 1994, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The park’s management changed: Uganda National Parks, since renamed Uganda Wildlife Authority, became responsible for the park. In 2003 a piece of land next to the park with an area of 4.2 square kilometres (1.6 sq mi) was purchased and incorporated into the park.
1999 – Hard Times
In March 1999, a force of 100-150 former Rwandan Interahamwe guerrillas infiltrated across the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and kidnapped 14 foreign tourists and their Ugandan guide from the park headquarters, eventually releasing 6 and murdering the remaining 8 with machetes and clubs; several victims were reportedly tortured, at least one of the female victims was raped, and the Ugandan guide was doused with gasoline and lit on fire. The Interahamwe attack was reportedly intended to “destabilize Uganda” and frighten away tourist traffic from the park, depriving the Ugandan government of vital income. The park was forced to close for several months and the popularity of the gorilla tours suffered badly for several years, though attendance has since recovered due to greater stability in the area. An armed guard also now accompanies every tour group.
Its Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants.
Locals around Bwindi National forest call it “Mubwindi bwa nyinamuraki” .The forest has a swamp in the southern sector and one time a family wanted to cross the swamp but it seemed to be impenetratable because of the thick vegetation. Ugandans believe forest heads are spirits and this family asked permission from the spirits to cross peacefully.