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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Uganda conducts census on endangered mountain gorillas

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Experts are counting the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda, seven years after the last census was held.

The census started in March this year and is still ongoing, according to Bashir Hangi, Communications Officer of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a state-owned agency charged with conservation of wildlife.

Hangi told Xinhua on Tuesday that the exercise is being carried out to enrich the conservation data as well as plan for the primates.

The last census was held in 2011 and the results showed that Uganda is home to about 400 gorillas, half of the world’s number of mountain gorillas. An earlier census conducted in 2006 showed that the park had a minimum of 302 gorillas.

The other only part of the world that has mountain gorillas is the Virunga Massif, which straddles the shared border areas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bwindi is not connected to this Massif. A census carried out in this Massif in 2010 showed the area had 480 gorillas.

Mountain gorillas, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, are a highly endangered sub-species of primate. They live in forests that have suffered from considerable human impact in the form of timber extraction and other human activity.

The primates are also a major source of tourism revenue to countries that host them.

Hangi said tourists who come to see the gorillas contribute a considerable percentage to the Uganda’s tourism revenue.

Tourism is Uganda’s main foreign exchange earner and the sector contributed up to 1.35 billion U.S. dollars to the export basket in 2016, according to government figures.

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