Bwindi Primeval Forest (World Heritage)
Half of all still living mountain gorillas can be found in the approximately 330 km² large primeval forest of Bwindi. The park has the greatest biodiversity in East Africa and is the habitat for over 200 tree and more than 100 species of fern.
Bwindi Primeval Forest: Facts
|Official title:||Bwindi Primeval Forest|
|Natural monument:||1948 Establishment of the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest Reserve, designated as a nature reserve in 1961, since 1991 a 320.92 km² national park with heights of 1190 to 2607 m|
|Location:||in the highlands of Kigezi (southwest Uganda), on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northwest of Kabale|
|Meaning:||extraordinary and in East Africa the greatest biodiversity with more than 200 tree and 104 fern species, home of the endangered mountain gorilla|
|Flora and fauna:||moist evergreen forest, bamboo forest (less than 1 km²) and mountain forest with Prunus africana and Newtonia buchananii, Symphonia globulifera and Strombosia scheffleri; 120 species of mammals such as a third of the world’s mountain gorillas and monkeys; 336 bird species, 12 of which only live in Bwindi, such as the pygmy owl, the gray white-mouthed, the common thrush species Zoothera tanganjicae, the species Bradypterus graueri, which belongs to the scrub warbler, and the species Melaenornis ardesiaca, which belongs to the flycatchers; 84% of the butterfly species occurring in Uganda such as Papilio leucotaenia and P. antimachus, which belong to the real swallowtails|
Black giants in the impenetrable forest
According to ebizdir, the forest in which this national park is located is called “Impenetrable Forest” in the Uganda, and this forest is truly impenetrable. It is a tropical primary forest in which humans have hardly intervened so far. You have to laboriously cut your way through the dense undergrowth with large machete knives. But for today’s visitor there are a few beaten paths on which you can get to the mountain gorillas. Some family groups of these black, long and thickly haired great apes live in this nature reserve, each family under the leadership of an old, so-called “silverback man”, real colossi with impressive muscles. When they first meet, many find their expressions grim. After some time of observation, however, the prejudice of monstrosity is cast aside; you see them with different eyes: They appear serious, deliberate, thoughtful. They probably think very similarly to us humans, their close relatives.
The members of those families that are allowed to visit are used to meeting people for an hour or two every day. You don’t flee. The walk to them is exhausting. It goes up and down, often quite steep and on slippery ground. Everyone gets wet, from daily rain or from the thick drops falling from the trees. Plants and bushes that you walk along also soak your clothes. The exertion or perhaps the anticipatory excitement also make the sweat run in rivers. Every now and then the gamekeeper pauses. He listens. If he hears nothing but the wheezing of his “wards”, it goes on. Gorillas are quiet.
You can smell them just before meeting our relatives. The smell is not unpleasant, it is more reminiscent of the smell of the juices that trickle from the stems of bitten plants. Even if you have already discovered their trail and smelled them, you are still a little surprised when you come across our relatives. Following the often repeated instructions of the accompanying ranger, we crouch and lower our gaze to the ground. Then one or the other risks a first glance. When the powerful fellows are not looking at you, you can admire them. Man looks in a mirror: They are creatures like you and me. We are almost familiar with physique, family behavior and overall behavior. If they look at you, it’s best to look away.
The grandiose jungle has more to offer, including other monkeys. But they are only an occasion to think about relationships. After meeting the gorillas, other monkey species are at best allowed to be their and our third cousins.
Gorillas come in three subspecies: the western lowland gorilla in West Africa, further to the east the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla, which differ from one another in physical characteristics and behavior. Some researchers even believe that the Bwindi gorillas are not mountain gorillas at all, unlike those in Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo), which is only 25 kilometers away. So-called DNA fingerprint analyzes were carried out on hair roots taken from the sleeping nests. This means that such distinctions can be determined biochemically with a high degree of probability. According to these studies, both populations are definitely mountain gorillas. The recognizable differences between the individuals in both areas can be explained by the different ecological conditions in both habitats. This knowledge is of the utmost importance for all necessary protective measures.