Well done to the census field teams, partners and funders. IGCP is grateful to every one of these for making this happen. Regardless of the numerous challenges including, bad weather, difficult steep and slippery terrain the census field teams stayed on course penetrating the impenetrable Bwindi forest until the completion of the second sweep of the census. The sweep was stopped short in contiguous Sarambwe Nature Reserve due to an incident between the survey team and the Uganda People’s Defense Force, which puts into focus the efforts under the GVTC framework to provide a better enabling environment for transboundary collaboration.
2018 has been a full year of mountain gorilla census in Bwindi – Sarambwe; two sweeps were successfully conducted between March – May 2018 and from Sept – Dec 2018. Thanks to team work and the great partnership and collaborative efforts of all the participants. Conducted in four phases the field teams surveyed approximately 320 sq-km, during the second sweep of the census. The teams also destroyed several snares, heard, saw or observed signs of other large mammals, recorded signs of illegal activities and collected fecal samples from gorilla nests. Teams also collected samples from fresh elephant dung encountered by the survey teams for genetic analyses as well.
We are confident that the teams collected enough data from the two sweeps from which a robust estimate of the gorilla population will be calculated. The collected mountain gorilla fecal samples are yet to be sent to the laboratory at the University of California in the USA for genetic analyses, and the elephant fecal samples to the University of Oregon in the USA. A closing ceremony to celebrate wonderful efforts of the census participants is being planned for early next year in BINP.