Goreth Niyibizi is a ranger guide at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. In honour of World Gorilla Day, she speaks to us about her passion for one of our closest living cousins.
“I have been working with mountain gorillas for 9 years and 4 months. It’s a special honour to work with one of our closest living cousins – they share with us 98.4% of their DNA. Despite this, our relations are globally endangered and exist in minute numbers (there are 1,063 individuals alive today).
“Every day l spend with gorillas brings me more and more excitement and understanding about how these gentle giants live.
“It’s the routine social and behavioural dynamics of mountain gorillas that makes my appetite for them so insatiable. My special gorilla is Kabunga, a sub-adult male of 6 years of age in the Rushegura group. During my first time guiding visitors to this group, Kabunga behaved curiously by climbing the small trees next to me and bending them toward me. In return, I scared him away to make sure that the required distance was kept. Kabunga kept behaving with this curiosity toward me every time I took visitors to group. Apparently, he behaves different toward other guides, hence why he is so special to me.
“Mountain gorilla tourism attracts a multitude of people from across the entire globe who continue to broaden my experience, exposure and knowledge of global affairs.
“My day-to-day work entails welcoming visitors, briefing and preparing them for gorilla tracking or nature walks. The emphasis here is manly on do’s, don’ts and whys. I also guide visitors to the gorillas, interpreting the behaviour of the great apes and controlling the interaction between the gorillas and tourists while viewing.
“The best part of my job is that it gives me an opportunity to interact with the wider community across the globe. My motivation is the salary I get every month for survival. It’s an exhausting job too though. Tracking mountain gorillas daily is tough and across challenging terrain.
“I want to tell the world that working as a gorilla guide helps fulfil my deep passion for the conservation of the world’s biggest primates. The prevailing Covid-19 crisis and the associated loss of tourism revenue has placed the conservation of mountain gorillas in a precarious situation. Any and every kind amount of support is essential in ensuring the survival of our beloved mountain gorilla.”
Goreth is an employee of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which works in collaboration with Tusk partner organisation Conservation Through Public Health. Teams from both organisations are participating in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. Find out how you can do your part to support Goreth’s efforts and the work of thousands of wildlife rangers across Africa here
About Conservation Through Public Health
Conservation Through Public Health promotes gorilla conservation among local communities by improving healthcare and economic opportunities. Find out more about their work here.