The Uganda Wildlife Authority has suspended primate tourism in all its national parks. This means that the country will not be allowing travelers to go gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the most popular destination for gorilla tourism in Africa.
In a public statement made the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the agency has stated that due to the outbreak of the novel corona virus disease and the eventual confirmation of a number of cases in Uganda, the management has assessed the situation and have come up with measures to help the agency learn and assess the survival of the mountain gorillas in these troubling times.
Among the measures taken to protect the great apes is suspending gorilla tourism as well as research in the national parks. The suspension doesn’t only include the gorillas but also the chimpanzees in all national parks. Therefore chimpanzee tracking has been suspended in Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale Forest National Park as well as the Kyambura Gorge and Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The Authority is studying the situation and it will come up with measures to lift the suspension once the situation stabilizes.
Experts in conservation have already suggested some measures that will be taken as a new norm that tourists will follow once gorilla trekking is allowed in the gorilla parks. These include;
- Increasing the minimum distance between visitors and the gorillas. There has been an 8 meter rule that tourists have been following at all times when tracking the great apes.
- Going gorilla tracking with a N95 mask that must be worn by tourists. The usage of the N95 Mask has been a rule for gorilla trackers in the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Mandatory testing for Covid-19 disease for the guests looking to visiting the gorillas in the wild.
- Trackers will also be provided with necessary PPE to avoid passing on any possible infection to the primates.
With a lot not yet studied about the novel corona virus and its possible infection to animals most especially the great apes, scientists greatly need this time to learn the situation and come up with ample measures to protect the great apes.