Gorilla Tourism in Covid-19 Times

  • Global protocols for tourism
  • Adventure activities, for example gorilla trekking
  • How covid-19 threatens the survival of gorillas
  • Gorilla trekking rules and regulations
  • Taking selfies with gorillas amidst covid-19
  • New gorilla tourism rules

How Covid-19 has crippled tourism in Africa

The outbreak of covid-19 and the subsequent global pandemic has largely affected the global economy with many people losing their lives and businesses shutting down.

Travel to Africa for safari in particular has faced a lot of restriction besides other long-haul travel markets and destinations. This led to loss of tourism revenue for governments, loss of jobs and income to those employed in the sector while a lot of businesses have also closed down.

With the urgency to contain the spread of the first and second waves of corona virus, destinations enforced lockdowns. However, with the rolling out of covid-19 global vaccination process, travel to Africa is slowly opening up following the release of protocols and guidelines for adventure travel and tourism by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) together with World Health Organization.

Therefore, for tourism to restart, destinations are implementing standard operating procedures (SOPS) such as washing hands with soap, sanitizing and putting on face masks. Fully vaccinated travelers must adhere to these procedures. Once at a destination, a visitor is subjected to mandatory verification, testing and screening.

Thus for anyone wishing to visit any destination in Africa, it is advisable to keep updated on latest developments on covid 19 rules as they keep changing over time. Gorilla trekking is one of the major concerns of the conservationists since the gorillas are highly vulnerable to this pandemic.

Recent research and information available shows that gorilla trekking if not regulated puts the health of mountain gorillas at risk of contracting covid-19 because gorillas share about 98% of their DNA with humans.

Since the start of gorilla tourism in the early 1970’s, conservation history shows that gorillas can suffer and die from respiratory infections including covid-19 among others. For instance, between 2002 and 2003, about 5,500 Western lowland gorillas in DR Congo, at the Lossi Sanctuary, died of Ebola virus (according to CGTN).

As a result, gorilla rules and regulations were put in place to minimize human disturbance and the risk of transmitting diseases to gorillas. That’s why the gorilla doctors scheme was established in order to carry out disease intervention and curing of gorillas that get sick and injured.

You need to know about the gorilla trekking rules and be a responsible visitor.

Gorilla trekking rules

  • You are not allowed to visit gorillas when sick
  • You must wash your hands before going to visit the gorillas

When with the gorillas

  • Do not eat or drink when with gorillas
  • You must keep a distance of 7 meters when with the gorillas
  • Do not use flash photography when taking pictures of gorillas.
  • You are not allowed to touch the gorillas.

Despite these rules, there have been incidences of visitors inconveniencing gorillas as the new study recently published in the British ecological journal “People and Nature” journal and Oxford Brooke University reveals. The study was carried out using Instagram posts that featured 855 gorilla selfies and photos taken between 2013 to 2019. And the results from the paper titled “keep your distance: using instagram posts to evaluate the risk of anthroponotic diseases transmission in gorilla ecotourism shows that tourists were close enough to gorillas than the recommended distance without face masks which could possibly transmit diseases.

New Gorilla Trekking Rules

“Keep your distance and wear your face masks when visiting gorillas” the study warned.

Therefore, gorilla rules have been reviewed limiting tourists from taking selfies with gorillas. This however, does not interfere visitors from getting up close and personal with gorillas. Visitors during gorilla trek can look into the eyes of the mountain gorillas.  

In order to allow for seamless and safe gorilla trekking experience amidst Covid-19, tourists must now put on their face masks. Whether you want to visit gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo.

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