Gorillas…and our plans for habitat extension and community-based conservation

(credit of image above: Ian Markham; instagram: @wildhopecollective, @ianwildhope)

Mountain gorillas are on the brink of extinction with around 1,000 animals left in the wild. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the few protected habitats for mountain gorilla populations.

Fortunately, conservation efforts have been helping to protect them from poaching and deforestation, but they continue to need help to survive and thrive. Currently, there is evidence that the growth of gorilla populations is slowing down due to the lack of sufficient habitat. Once a certain population density is reached, there is more risk for increased infectious diseases (especially parasitic diseases) and also conflict between families.

In addition to working with the local communities on conservation efforts to reduce poaching and deforestation, our hope is that we can even take it a step further, by REFORESTATION, to convert some of the agricultural land that is immediately adjacent to the National Park to large native forest, so it can work as a buffer zone. In addition to helping gorillas, these conservation efforts can also benefit many other species that are threatened.

“Bwindi hosts numerous globally threatened species including high-profile mammals such as mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, l’Hoest’s monkey and African elephant; birds such as African green broadbill, Grauer’s swamp warbler, Turner’s Eremomela, Chapin’s flycatcher and Shelley’s crimson-wing; and butterflies such as African giant swallowtail and Cream-banded swallowtail. ” (Reference: UNESCO,  https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/682).

We made a first start by completing the purchase of a 3 acre farm land adjacent to the park in 2022. We completed construction of the Sahaya Rafiki guesthouse at one corner, while young trees are planted on the rest of the land. Gorilla families have been visiting this land surrounding the guesthouse regularly (usually every few weeks) as you can see here below and also on the page of the Sahaya Rafiki guesthouse.

Recently, a family that owns the 2.1 hectares adjacent to our current land has offered us to also purchase their land. This would be prime habitat for reforestation and habitat expansion! The price is approximately $160,000 (US dollars). We have made an initial down payment of $20,000 with the goal of paying the remainder of the balance ($140,000) over the next 2 years. Recently we raised nearly $25,000 which leaves the ouststanding balance of $115,000.

In addition to doing reforestation, we want to also take advantage of the fact that gorillas often hang out here do start an observation deck on the plot of land we purchased recently across the river of this land. See the map below. The main goal of this observation deck is to allow local people, including classes of school children, to be able to view gorilla families (either directly or via binoculars) whenever the gorillas leave the park and are spending time at this land. When no gorillas are present on this land, then this land can also be used for walking tours with the classes to teach them about various plants and other animals of the forest.

Will you help us? Any donation, of any amount will help us reach the goal. If you plan to make a large donation, we can publicly recognize your donation and for example include your name in the name of this protected area, or name a building after you or a loved one you like to honor.

If we raise more than our current target for the purchase of the land, we will use it towards the observation deck(s) and/or explore purchasing additional land adjacent to the park to further expand the program.

How to support:

You can donate online via the donate button below. Or if you like to prefer to avoid any credit card transaction fees, you can donate by check, made payable to “Sahaya International”, with mention “gorilla habitat” and mail it to Sahaya International, 1504 Portola Street, Davis, CA 95616.

Here are a few images describing the land. Click on individual pictures to see an enlarged version.

This video below was made by Ian Markham (follow him on instagram at  @ianwildhope and @ianwildhope).

A clip of the Rushegura family crossing the stream in front of the Sahaya Rafiki guesthouse (May 14, 2022), taken by Mushamba Moses.

Here are some pictures of mountain gorillas, contributed by generous photographers. Click the picture to see an enlarged version.

This gallery below has photographs by Ian Markham (follow him on instagram at @ianwildhope and @ianwildhope). Click on individual pictures to see an enlarged version.