20. November 2014

Mountain Gorillas: They Share 98% of Our DNA / Die Berggorillas: 98% gleiche DNA wie wir Menschen

Silverback Ndungutse, member of the Nyakagezi gorilla group
in the Mgahinga Gorilla NP, Uganda
Silberrücken Ndungutse aus der Nyakagezi Gorilla-Familie
im Mgahinga Gorilla Nationalpark, Uganda
A silverback and a juvenile of the Nyakagezi gorilla group
Ein Silberrücken und ein "Teenager" aus der Nyakagezi Gorilla-Famile

Did you know?

  • The DNA difference between the gorilla and homo sapiens is just about 2%.
    Thus it's not surprising that seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat is such a unique, unforgettable experience for us humans. 
  • They have a lifespan of 30-40 years in the wild.
  • There are roughly about 700 mountain gorillas (according to National Geographic) remaining on Earth, means they are critically endangered.
  • Half of the world's remaining mountain gorilla population lives in the Virunga Mountains of Central Africa, at the intersection of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The other half lives just 24 km north of the Virunga Mountains, in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
  • You can do a gorilla trekking and see them in their natural environment - well, not all of them, since "just" 26 gorilla families are habituated to human presence.
  • The rule: there is just one group of max. eight visitors allowed to visit one gorilla family per day...
  • ... and for just one hour (there should not be too much contact with humans. Moreover gorillas are vulnerable to our diseases, since they have 98% of our genes. Hence you are not allowed to visit them if you are sick, and be it just a flu, for even this can be fatal for gorillas.)
  • that is: max. 178 visitors = permits per day in all three countries (Uganda: 72, Rwanda: 80, DRC: 26)
  • The price for a permit is USD600 in Uganda and DRC, in Rwanda even USD750. But it is good value! Aside from that the fees also benefit gorilla conservation.

Some more general information about the gorillas?

18. November 2014

What is the Fastest Way to the Gorillas? / Wie kommen wir am schnellsten zu den Gorillas?

YEAH, once more an Equator crossing!
Here in Uganda close to the Queen Elizabeth NP
JAAA, wieder eine Äquator-Überquerung!
Hier nahe des Queen Elizabeth Nationalparks
The red soil of Africa. I just love it!
Die rote Erde Afrikas. I just love it!

A Pied Kingfisher in the evening sun
Ein Graufischer in der Abendsonne

Finally, finally it was going to happen! Our next destination: the mountain gorillas, the clear no. 1 on my 'bucket list' for our Africa Tour. Beforehand I already read several books about these majestic, unfortunatelly critically endangered animals. They are the second-closest relatives of humans after chimpanzees. Of course we had also watched 'Gorillas in the Mist', the moving story of Dian Fossey, an American scientist who came to Africa to study the vanishing mountain gorillas, and later fought to protect them. I was very excited.

3. November 2014

At the Murchison Falls: Why Were We Offering Such a Funny Sight? / An den Murchison Falls: Warum boten wir so einen komischen Anblick?

The famous Murchison Falls
Die berühmten Murchison Falls
Greeted by a gentle giant
Ein sanfter Riese

A black-and-white colobus - clearly a male one ;-)
Ein schwarz-weißer Stummelaffe - eindeutig ein Männchen ;-)
Pied kingfisher, sitting on elephant dung
Der Graufischer genießt eine kurze Pause auf dem Elefantendung.
Magnificent waterbuck
Prachtvoller Wasserbock

The Northwest of Uganda offers a breathtaking sight: the famous Murchison Falls. Here the waters of the world's longest river Nile - at this point about 200 meters wide - squeeze through a narrow gorge, only six meters wide, before dropping about 40 meters below. That is really spectacular. Yet our adventure there was even a bit more spectacular. But first things first.