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October 2009

Welcome to the FRIEND A GORILLA newsletter! This issue is fully dedicated to the recently launched campaign Friend a Gorilla. Learn more about how this project contributes to the conservation of the mountain gorillas, get introduced to the largest gorilla family Nshongi in southern Bwindi. And make new friends with the impressive hairy, yet friendly creatures that are so endangered: Uganda's Mountain Gorillas!

In this month's newsletter:

Friend a Gorilla Campaign
New Gorilla Family: meet Nshongi
Hollywood stars save the gorillas
Did you know this about Uganda's Mountain Gorillas?
"Lair of the Silverbacks"
Befriend a Gorilla today!
Visit your friends in person

 

1. Friend a Gorilla CampaignMountain Gorillas of Uganda
On 26th September 2009, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) launched a worldwide campaign "Friend-a-Gorilla". This project is in line with the
"Year of the Gorilla" celebrations, as 2009 was declared by the United Nations, and will help to promote Uganda as a top tourism destination in the world.

The campaign contributes to the conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas and helps to protect them from extinction. Of the 720 remaining mountain gorillas in the world, about 340 are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The "Friend-a-Gorilla" campaign also gives a unique opportunity to become friends with a gorilla from anywhere around the world. Strategically placed cameras in Bwindi Forest will stream video footage of the gorillas, making it possible to track these gentle giants from your own sitting room. For only 1 dollar (0.70 euro) you can befriend a gorilla of your choice and stay in touch with him via Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

 

2. New Gorilla Family - meet Nshongi
In line with the "Friend-a-Gorilla" Campaign, a new habituated gorilla group was officially opened for tourism. The Nshongi gorilla group is found in the area of Amazing encounter with the gorillas for Mark PenningRushaga, in eastern Bwindi National Park. The group was named after the river close to where this gorilla family was first sighted. The family is believed to be the largest gorilla group in Uganda with 36 individuals including three silverbacks, which is very rare. Even more surprising is the fact that the dominant silverback (called Nshongi) is not the oldest silverback in the group. Read more about the Nshongi group...

 

3. Hollywood stars save the gorillas
Six Hollywood stars were invited to join the celebrations of the "Friend a Gorilla" campaign. Among the celebrities were Jason Biggs (American Pie), Kristy Wu (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Melissa Wu (Flight 29 Down).

They were welcomed with a special dinner, followAmos Wekesa and Jason Biggs at the welcome dinnered by a trip to the impenetrable forest of Bwindi. Here they began tracking the Nshongi group to symbolise the opening of the new gorilla family. After a 3-hour hike, the group finally found the gorillas where Mark Penning, one of the trackers, had an amazing encounter. One of the young gorillas unexpectedly put his arm around him. "With his hand resting on my shoulder, he looked right into my eyes from just centimetres away," explained Mark after the tracking.

The Hollywood stars also attended the Gorilla Gala Dinner where they shared their experiences. "This is an incredible country. The gorillas and the faces of the local people we saw were beautiful. We are going to be ambassadors of the mountain gorillas in the USA!" Read more...

 

4. Did you know this about Uganda's Mountain Gorillas?
    ... the Latin name of mountain gorilla is Gorilla Gorilla Berengei
    ... the DNA of gorillas is 98-99% identical to that of a human
    ... the name gorilla is derived from the Greek word Gorillai meaning "hairy
           women"
    ... mountain gorillas can not survive outside their natural habitat, meaning that
           there are non to be found in zoos around the world

    ... like humans, mountain gorillas have individual finger prints
    ... gorillas consider ants a delicacy
Read more interesting facts about the gorillas on Friend-a-gorilla Gorilla Information.

 

5. "Lair of the Silverbacks"
Article in National Geographic Traveler - October 2009
Author: Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of the Ugandan-based nonprofit, Conservation Through Public Health (www.ctph.org)

"By now I have tracked gorillas over 200 times. This is what draws visitors from around the world to Bwindi. I have watched people cry when they first see the mountain gorillas. I'll never forget one lady who said: "That baby gorilla is cuter than my grandson."
Read more...

 

6. Befriend a Gorilla today!
Tired of the same old faces on Facebook? Then add a new hairy friend to your network! Become friends with baby Katono, silverback Mishaya or the entire Nshongi family! For only 1 dollar you can add a gorilla of your choice to your Facebook or Twitter account, and keep in touch with him via the latest technologies. Moreover, with your contribution you will support the mountain gorillas and protect them from extinction. Surf now to the Friend-a-Gorilla website and befriend a Mountain Gorilla!

Friend a Mountain Gorilla

 

7. Visit your friends in person
Tracking the gorillas is an exciting and unforgettable experience. And although the "Friend-a-Gorilla" campaign is now allowing you to follow your friends from your chair, this can never compete with the experience of a REAL tracking. Feel the thrill as you are cutting your way through the dense forest. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the surrounding mountains and be touched as you see baby gorillas playing with each other.

So book your gorilla permit now! If you want to track the mountain gorillas on any of the following dates, you are guaranteed of a permit!
       15 December 2009        6 permits available
       20 December 2009        4 permits available
       31 December 2009        2 permits available
       16 July 2010                  6 permits available
       24 July 2010                  6 permits available
       30 July 2010                  8 permits available
       11 August 2010             8 permits available
       20 August 2010             8 permits available
       30 August 2010             8 permits available
Permits can be reserved in combination with a safari to other national parks, a tour that completely suits your needs and budget. But book early as competition is high!


If you have any questions or comments concerning the newsletter please contact us!

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