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Bwindi Communities Benefit from Gorilla Tourism

Bwindi Communities Benefit from Gorilla Tourism

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When gorilla tourism was introduced in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest ten years ago, there were many sad faces among the communities neighboring the newly created national park. They had just said goodbye to lots of free honey, wood, and even gold, which they used to dig manually.

But the sadness lasted for a very short time because the communities soon discovered the immense benefits that could be derived from gorilla tourism. Moreover, the Uganda Wildlife Authority was implementing programs aimed at enhancing benefits to the community.

Some of such programs include:

– the revenue sharing program under which communities get 20 percent of park entry fees. Moreover Bwindi communities gain a lot more from this program than their counterparts who neighbor other national parks because tourists pay a lot more money to see the gorillas.

– establishment of a community-owned and managed camp that would offer accommodation and meals to tourists, as well as construction of souvenir shops where communities would sell their crafts.

– establishment of the Mgahinga Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT) with assistance from the Global Environment Facility/ World Bank. The arrangement was that 60 percent of the Trust funds would be given to the communities to implement development and conservation projects.

Within the first five years (1994-1999), 19 projects had been implemented under the revenue sharing program and included some of the following:

Title of Project Name of Parish Amount (Ush)
Mukono Health Unit Kanungu
3.7m
Nteko Community Camp Ground
Kisoro
3.4m
Construction of three classrooms
Kanungu
3.5m
Muramba Road Project
Kanungu
3.5
Bridge construction on Rwamishe-Kazuru road
Kanungu
14.2m
Construction of Rukiko Hall
Kanungu
36.6m
Classroom construction for Kitojo P. S
Kabale
3.7m
Rubimbwa Health Unit
Rubimbwa
7.4m

Currently, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is encouraging communities living near the newly habituated group of Nkuringo to enter into partnership with private sector companies and participate in organizing gorilla trekking trips in Nkuringo.

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