THE NKURINGO MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
Gorilla tourism started in Nkuringo in April 2004 after the habituation of the group that started in 1996. The group ranges the Kashasha river valley below the Nteko ridge and was often to be found foraging in close proximity to the indigenous populations outside the park. This was regarded as being detrimental to the health and well being of the animals as they were becoming predomitory crop raiders devastating banana plantations and feeding on eucalyptus and sweet potato.
Rangers from the Human Gorilla Conflict Force were tasked to chase the group back int the park on an all too regular basis. It was decided in the best interests of both the animals and villagers well being that the International Gorilla Conservation Programme purchase a 12km long and 350m wide strip of public land along the river to create a buffer zone adjacent the national park where planned land usage would not be appealing to the gorillas encouraging them to remain within the park. The land purchase has not completely solved the problem as the gorillas have ranged more than 1km out of the park as villagers farms moved back out of what was the new buffer zone.
The Nkuringo group in early 2008 was made up of 18 gorillas however one of the silverbacks in the group and longest surviving of these named Nkuringo died at what was an estimated age of 49 years on 27th April 2008.
Kwitonda gave birth to twins on 1st November 2008 one of which passed away at 2 years. In November 2009 came the exciting development of a yet another baby being born to Mama Xmas named Kiiza. The group currently includes 16 animals after the loss of one of the twins and the silverback Bahati leaving the group in July 2011: