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Bwindi Forest

Bwindi forest is protected within the borders of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, 331 sq km located in South Western Uganda, on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley and bordering Congo. The park has an altitude range between 1160 meters to 2600 meters above sea level. The landscape is a mountain tropical forest, millions of years old and untouched. His biodiversity is unique for Africa and for the world, as it is home to 350 speciesm of birds, 310 species of butterflies, 324 species of trees, 120 species of mammals including 10 species of primates. These are: the mountain gorillas (estimated 350 individuals only), L’Hoest Monkey (estimated 1100 members remaining), red tailed monkey (about 5.500), blue monkey (about 3100), black and white colobus (about 400), olive baboons (about 1100), the chimpanzees (about 860), potto, Demidoff’s galago and needle-clawed galago.

The forest was first protected for its vital water catchment value. In recent decades the forest was reduced due to wood cutting, mining and land clearing for farming. Population increase puts a lot of pressure on the tiny forest, where even in its own heart you can phisically see cattle rearing and human activities taking place. The area was not densely settled until 100 years ago, when the Bantu farmers (Bakiga) came from the areas of Congo and Rwanda and begun the intensive clearing, displacing the actual residents of the forest the Batwa as well as the pastoralists. The forest became protected area in 1961 covering 321 sq km, however intensive deforestation was taking place in the whole area between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The creation of the actual Bwindi Impenetrable National Park on 13th August 1991 was meat to save what remained of the ancient forest and also for the protection of the mountain gorillas. In December 1994 Bwindi was declared Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Previous mining activities like iron, gold, tungsten mining were banned but still constitute a threat to the forest.

The most important policy introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority for the protection of Bwindi was to include the local communities in planning and receiving direct benefits from tourist activities. The mountain gorilla trekking is the most important tourist activity, which started in 1994 with the opening of Mubare family.