Following the news from neighbouring Rwanda that it is increasing its gorilla permits from an already high $750 to a jaw-dropping $1500, Uganda has responded positively. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) have today announced that their $600 permit fee will be maintained for a minimum of 12 months.
As Andrew Seguya, Executive Director of UWA stated, “Gorillas are one of the world’s most valuable natural resources and their conservation is at the forefront of all of UWA’s decisions. Allowing global travellers the opportunity to fulfil lifelong dreams to see these animals is key to their conservation”.
Tim Henshall, who heads up Uganda Tourism in the UK, added that “We don’t want to become elitist and allow only a wealthy and highly select few the opportunity to relive that famous David Attenborough moment. Having international tourists staying at a variety of grade hotels and lodges means that locally-owned businesses will benefit”.
Amazingly, unlike Uganda, the Rwanda price applies to everyone – including Rwandan locals, who will now have little or no chance of seeing their own gorillas. But Andrew Seguya believes that Ugandans understanding their own indigenous natural resources is key to protecting the gorillas and so they offer a highly discounted fee for Ugandan nationals.
Most experts who have trekked for gorillas on both sides of the border state that the encounters are very similar, therefore it is difficult to justify such a steep price differential. As Stephen Asiimwe, Chief Executive at UTB stated, “Uganda is committed to protecting our natural resources as well as welcoming tourists to view our amazing wildlife and that's not just gorillas. The current $600 fee allows us to do that.”