Is it fair that we have to pay to admire nature? The money that tourists pay in the parks is intended to conserve it? Is it useful for the protection of endangered species? Does the community gains something in that transaction?
These are some of the questions we asked ourselves when we confirm the price of a one-hour visit in the Bwindi Impenetrable Park to spot the mountain gorilla, currently endangered. Five hundred dollars per person, about four hundred euros. It was clear that this time, unfortunately, we were not able to meet these distant relatives with about 98% of DNA identical to ours.
We arrived at Buhoma, a village near the National Park, after a hellish journey in a van with some Ugandans. The advantage was that we were so crowded that we couldnīt move by the tremendous bumps in the road. Two punctures and eight hours of journey, were the introduction of the place. Now we understood why most tourists arrive at Bwindi by plane and then with a private transport four by four.
In fact, before arriving we knew we could not make a visit to the gorillas. But we had some hope of seeing them 'by mistake' during the journey or in the village. At the end, the animals know no barriers imposed by human beings... We were unlucky, and we had to settle for a walk around between tea and banana plantations.
We have no answers to the questions posed and in any case, we prefer to leave open space for discussion. People who we knew who work in national parks of East Africa told us their suspicions about what happens to the money raised. And they almost always point to the benefit of a powerful few. As regards the protection of animals, it is clear that these people put interest in it, but ... is it enough for the survival of this species?
The gorilla has been threatened by both poachers and armed conflict, and by the destruction of their natural habitat. Time will tell if, despite all this, get further in this world... We hope that these wonderful creatures continue to inhabit the Bwindi Impenetrable and future generations can meet them at liberty.
Woman carrying bananas in Buhoma.
Pigmies showing us to make fire with wood tools.
Beehives in Buhoma, near Bwindi.
Workers taking tea leaves.