Status Of Rwanda Gorilla Trackers
The Status Of Rwanda Gorilla Trackers, Rwanda has some of the most knowledgeable gorilla trekking guides amongst the three homes of the mountain gorillas. They have most of the details about the mountain gorillas at there fingertips right from there births, the parents of the mountain gorillas, the dominant silverbacks of the gorilla families and so much more.
This information accumulation has come a long way stating back to the Diane Fossey days. Although the gorilla trekking in Rwanda was disrupted by the 1994 genocide, the information about the mountain gorillas collected by the then local gorilla trackers with Diane Fossey never faded away. The current knowledge about the mountain gorillas is built from this base.
Most Popular Gorilla Safaris
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With time, Rwanda Development Board in collaboration with international conservation bodies and sister conservation bodies in Uganda and D.R.Congo set up rules that govern the activity. This effort may be one of the reasons for a steady increase in the current number of mountain gorillas in the world.
At the moment, about 1000 mountain gorillas are believed to be living in the world from 300 gorillas that live in the 1980s. Rwanda is celebrating so far 13 gorilla trekking families some of which include Group 13, Hirwa gorilla family, Amahoro gorilla family to mention but a few.
Research and organizing refresher courses for all rangers guides in Rwanda are helping with updating there knowledge concerning the mountain gorillas. This includes escorting researchers and noting something down, participating in gorilla census, noting down new births, death, and so much more.
In the days of Dian Fossey, the ranger guides were referred to as gorilla trackers and below is a testimony of how they interacted with this American philanthropist.
Life Of Rwanda Gorilla Trackers And Dian Fossey At Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trackers enjoy the highest status among the various Karisoke workers. They own their own rain gears and boots, they always carried a machete or curved umuhoro, and they walked with the swagger and self assurance of fighter pilots.
Their work also took them away from camp and the watchful eyes and strange ways of Mademoiselli, as they referred to Dian. Yet while their standing was primarily due to their work with gorillas, karisoke’s raison d’être, they had very little contact with the gorillas themselves. This was a camp rule
Trackers were to lead researchers to the gorillas, but remain out of sight. Dian did not want the gorillas to feel comfortable a round any black people, only white researcher, ostensibly to limit the threat of poaching.
However, this rule was necessarily violated on a regular basis at a critical point when the trackers would come upon the gorillas –just as poachers might come upon the group.
Still, the karisoke trackers would then back away and either return to the camp or stay for several hours under cover until the researcher was finished.
Especially in our early months, when the trackers skill and familiarity with the terrain were most needed, the time on the trail was a great opportunity for discussion. Swahili was the working language in the virungas, since none of the staff spoke French and none of us had yet mastered the intricities of Kinyarwanda – one of the most complexes of the Bantu family of languages.
Swahili, though, was a regional lingua franca, and one that we were fortunate to have learned during our two years in neighboring Congo. We covered a range of topics in our walking talks. Some were about gorillas; the creatures they only knew from trail sign, swaying bushes, vocalizations, and all-too-brief sightings.
Many discussions had to do with life in America. Over time, we could ask more questions about Rwanda. Politics subjects were generally off-limits, even though all the men were Hutu, the ethnic group that made up president Habyarimana’s power base in northwestern Rwanda.
Political decisions were often referred to as maneno ya Mungu, or ‘’God’s will’’, reflecting the men’s apparent acceptance of matters beyond their control.
Several trackers worked at karisoke while we were there, their number at any one time depending on need. Generally there was one full-time tracker’s position, as for housekeepers, split into two twenty-day shifts. Little Nemeye always took one of those shifts. He was a short, thin young man of about twenty-five, with time, and an excellent tracker.
Able to focus on the most subtle of signs, Nemeye rarely followed a dead-end trail. When it came to the gorillas themselves, though, he seemed less interested than some others in the details of their lives. It was a job, and he did very well.
Vatiri was a frequent partner to little Nemeye‘s. Named for the rare passage of automobile, or virtue, at the time of his birth, varirti was the trackers’ tracker. Acknowledged by all for his skills, his successful location of a researcher lost at night became a karisoke legend.
So too, was his recovery of a car key dropped along a three hour trail through thick bush. Yet as good as he was with gorillas and lost scientists, vatiri’s true passion was tracking down poachers.
Called up from the valley whenever suspicious signs or sounds were detected, he seemed to relish the chase. While captures were rare, he often returned with a load of wire taros, machetes and other contraband seized from poachers’ camps. Also suited variti’s interest in spending more time on his farm than in the forest.
Rwelekana, who helped Amy pursue Group 5 across the floated Susa, was another exceptional tracker who proffered to be at home. Although wages were never high at karisoke –roughly one dollar per day in 1978- this was still more than what camp staff could earn in the agricultural sector.
Rwelekana converted his meager earnings into a series of land purchases. This strategic acquisition of farmland was extremely shrewd in the face of the growing Rwanda land shortage, and a reflection of Rwelekana’s wisdom and industriousness.
He was also the tracker most curious about life in other African countries, in Europe, and in the United States. We would come to know him much better while doing census work, but he was always an enjoyable companion at karisoke.
Big Nemeye, so name for his precedence over little Nemeye as well as his solid physical stature, was a former tracker who was fukaza or fired, by Dian.
His banishment could be lifted under certain conditions, but his temperament and more limited skills made him less attractive regular employee than the others.
Big Nemeye, too, would later help with census work, where Bill would learn that his character was greatly tempered by abstinence from alcohol.
Whichever trackers were in the camp were most likely to be found around the main fire as the day came to a close. Fieldwork finished, the smokers would dry their tobacco before rolling it in whatever paper they could find. Often these were the lined and ink-stained pages from their own children’s used school notebooks.
When Bill sometimes offered the men factory wrapped impala cigarettes, he would joke that he was improving their health. Besides, far more smoke entered their lungs each day from the smoldering wet wood of the pit than from any number of cigarettes.
Smoke or no, the fire was warm as the cold night air rolled down off the mountain and the pit was warm as the center of Rwandan staff life.
Discussions were not that different from those at workplace s around the world, including the right to complain. With time, the topic would invariably return to the central focus of all life at karisoke: the increasingly strange and reclusive Dian Fossey.
Rarely seen outside her cabin, Dian almost never visited the gorillas anymore. Regardless, her presence was felt in many ways. A single name shouted across the compound would send the housekeeper or wood-cutter running, and even the most hardened trackers had learned to heed the call.
Failure to respond could result in summery suspensions, usually rescinded within the month. More serious infractions might cause someone’s hard-earned mushahara or salary of $10 to $20 worth of Rwandan francs, to be waved in his face and then tossed in the fire.
The victim rarely responded until he returned to the pit, where the others would console him with the reminder that Mademoiselli ana kichwa sawa toto.
All would agree that the strange white woman was, indeed, childlike. They also knew that with little education and no French, they had few if any employment alternatives outside her camp.
The dense tree cover, frequently low clouds, and Dian’s dark moods could make Karisoke a foreboding place. Cold and wet were constant companions. Shades of grey sky, the height of clouds, and the intensity of rainfall-distinguished days from each other.
The equatorial day length hardly varied, and massive volcanoes to the east and west blocked sunrise and sunset. Yet karisoke was also a magical spot that could stir the imaginations and passions of those of us fortunate enough to live and work there
Why Go Gorilla trekking In Rwanda
Rwanda has the shortest time from the airport to Volcanoes National park, which is about 3 hours. Although Rwanda has a provision for 1 day gorilla trekking experience, its rash time and you may not sink deep into the entire experience. You may be on pressure to catch up with your departure flight and so get distracted.
A two-day gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda is the shortest comfortable package you can choose. You must have all the gorilla trekking gears because it is a rushed adventure too.
Although the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit is pricey costing $1500 per person per trek, you save a lot on gas you use when driving from the airport to Volcanoes National park.
Rwanda has a variety of accommodations close to the volcanoes National Park or in Kigali city that you can book for your night and from them you can attend briefing too in time.
Rwanda is the center of gorilla research as mastered by fallen Diane Fossey. Most of world wide research about mountain gorillas has a reference of her work. With all this information who can beat Rwanda ranger guides in providing factual information during gorilla trekking.
Volcanoes National Park is a primate meeting point. In case you wish to enjoy the presence of strange primates, charming primates, colorful primates, Rwanda is the destinations to choose.
The forest harbors black and white colobus, olive baboons, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, golden monkeys and others.
Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda is the primate extension after gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National park. The Park hosts chimpanzees that are semi habituated but charming to follow. At the periphery of Nyungwe National Park is Cyamudondo home to a faction of chimpanzees and other primates.
In additional to gorilla trekking, the game safaris in Rwanda are slowly picking up because of wildlife rehabilitation taking place in the once rich Akagera National Park. The parks host, rhinos, giraffes, cape buffaloes, leopards though rarely seen, zebras, great birds, water bucks, bush bucks, gorgeous scenery and so much more.
How To Book Rwanda Gorilla trekking Permits
The Rwanda Development Board is the selling body for all Volcanoes National park gorilla permits. When you send us an enquiry with the dates of gorilla trekking and number of people travelling with, we check availability.
In case its positive, our Safari Consultant get back to you and booking other safari package components follows. Purchasing your gorilla permit as soon as possible is the only way to confirm your interest in taking up this adventure. Accommodation to use for overnight must be booked, the driver guide, vehicle and others.
On the day of gorilla trekking, you avail yourself for briefing and join other trekkers into the forest. Dress in the right gorilla trekking gears because the jungle is boggy and slippery at times making it a challenging adventure.
You can hire a porter before starting gorilla trekking because they can carry your belongings and give you a push when you need it. Just for a small fee you can change a life of these local people.