Is Gorilla Trekking Ethical? In order to ensure that all gorilla visits are conducted ethically, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and local stakeholders have created extensive conservation initiatives and put protocols into place.
IS GORILLA TREKKING ETHICAL?
Possibly the most popular wildlife activity for visitors to Uganda, Rwanda, and the Congo is gorilla trekking. This is because getting close to primates is incredibly exciting. Many tourists travel to Africa with the intention of spending time with them in their natural environments as they go about their daily lives.
Is gorilla trekking safari ethical? Some contend that too much human contact with primates invades their privacy, puts them at risk for contracting diseases, or, worse yet, causes them stress and makes them hostile. These individuals do not believe that using drones, cameras, or drone footage while gorilla trekking is ethical. The renowned primatologist Dian Fossey strongly opposed gorilla tourism and up-close encounters with primates. She suggested that gorillas be left alone in the wild as well.
Fossey and others may have a point, but it’s important to remember that gorillas live in developing nations where there aren’t enough resources to protect the primates reared for other purposes than tourism. The only reliable method of generating the funds required for gorilla conservation is through gorilla tourism. Without tourists, money could still be raised from local governments and international wildlife agencies, but this hasn’t been sufficient. If you read more about Fossey’s conservation efforts, you’ll learn that because they didn’t perceive any immediate benefits, government officials were less driven to safeguard the primates. Some of them might have even colluded with poachers. Gorilla trekking generates tourism revenue, which in and of itself provides local governments with an incentive to safeguard the primates.
A gorilla permit, which costs 1500 USD in Rwanda, 700 USD in Uganda, and 450 USD in the Congo, is required in order to participate in gorilla trekking. Although the permits are pricey, they are part of an effort to protect endangered species by limiting the number of people who visit the animals each day. The fact that gorilla trekking is the only way to raise the money needed for activities related to gorilla conservation renders it ethical in and of itself.
The money made from viewing the primates has assisted the three governments in funding gorilla conservation initiatives such as offering healthcare to sick individuals (in collaboration with the Gorilla Doctors), paying the salaries of Game Rangers, and conducting ongoing primate-related research. Therefore, going on a gorilla trek is moral.
Gorilla trekking is moral because it is planned out and adheres to very strict rules. The guidelines for gorilla trekking help to safeguard the primates, preserve their natural habitats, and prevent any kind of distress. The Rangers always provide visitors with the gorilla trekking rules or guidelines during the briefing for gorilla trekking. These precautions were taken in order to safeguard the primates from any threats or potential hazards.
It is significant to note that the mountain gorillas’ total population has grown over time. For instance, the 1993 public opening of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda featured just one gorilla family, which has since expanded to 17. The majority of the former poachers were trained and hired as guides, game rangers, and porters, which contributed to this. They now serve as the primates’ guardians. Many residents of the nearby communities have jobs thanks to gorilla tourism, preventing them from having to leave their homes in search of a better life. They work as hotel employees and tour guides. Some people earn the money necessary to pay entrance fees and provide a meal for their families by selling their artwork to tourists who are visiting national parks.
As was already mentioned, gorilla trekking is now a significant source of income for the governments of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. The money made from gorilla trekking is used in part to improve the local communities’ ability to support themselves, including by constructing roads, schools, and hospitals. The treks’ financial worth has inspired the local populations to work together in wildlife protection and conservation, as well as raising public awareness of the value of wildlife.
Therefore, we can conclude that going gorilla trekking is moral because it has helped the countries where the parks are located develop a variety of industries. Poaching, the pet trade, and the persecution of gorilla groups have all been helped by gorilla trekking. Some people won’t appreciate the value of keeping the gorillas alive if you leave them in the wild without tourists. If the primates are not protected, they face a serious threat from humans encroaching on their habitat, poaching, and the pet trade.
IS GORILLA TREKKING ETHICAL? THE RULES, REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES
Before your gorilla trek, your guide will give you a thorough briefing. Your guide will go over the guidelines you must adhere to during the briefing. These consist of:
- Maintain a constant distance of 7 meters from the gorillas to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
- If you’re unwell, do not attend a trek.
- Do not eat or drink around the gorillas.
- Never feed the gorillas.
- Be careful not to drop any trash.
- Do not touch the gorillas.
- Try to avoid looking them directly in the eye, as this can be perceived as challenging them, which can cause them to charge.
- If gorillas charge, look down, crouch down slowly, and be quiet.
- Avoid making any loud noises.
- Do not purchase souvenirs made from wildlife products.
- No flash photography, as this can scare them.
- Listen to the instructions of your guide at all times.