Youth Livelihood Funds Finally Reach Mbarara

Rwanda is known to most travelers as the best destination if you are interested in trekking mountain gorillas.

The country had 480 of these very rare mammals as per the last gorilla census in 2010. Only a few days ago, cheapest Rwanda marked the 11th Kwita Izina ceremony where 24 baby gorillas were named, order an event that attracted hundreds of foreign visitors.

I was part of a media team that trekked these gorillas in Volcanoes National Park (their habitat) in the week that preceded the Kwita Izina ceremony.

The park is an hour’s drive from the major town of Musanze. We set off from Snow Hotel at 6:30 am in the morning and drove through the smooth roads amid the cold morning weather. Everyone was making way to their business, this site school kids heading to school while other locals were already in their gardens digging.

Mount Sabyinyo as seen from afar

Mount Sabyinyo as seen from afar

From afar, the once active volcanic mountains Sabyinyo, Karisimbi and Bisongwe could visibly be seen. Our next stop was Kinigi Park Headquarters where every trekker gets clearance and guidelines on visiting these gorillas.

Gorilla trekking is typically an activity for the morning so a good number of tourists had reached when we got there. Here we waited a while, as a group of traditional dancers entertained the visitors.

Moments later, we were introduced to Placide Nkurunziza Niragire, our day’s tour guide.

He told us that gorillas have a menstruation period of 4 years. At age 8-12, they are black backs and from 12 years on, they get a silver color on their backs. This is why they are called ‘silver backs’.

“The oldest gorilla in the group is the boss and it commands respect. All females belong to the boss” said Nkurunziza.

At the park headquarters, visitors are advised to rent gum boots and jackets. In the park, it’s usually wet, muddy and also cold. The recommendations are to enable one have a great trekking experience.

Placide Nkurunziza, the tour guide goes through the guidelines

Placide Nkurunziza, the tour guide goes through the guidelines

At our next stop (around 9am) we disembarked from the vehicle and it was time to ramble up the hill. Here, potters are available to help with your heavy luggage.

Our guide told us we were 2 hours away from the park. For anyone on their maiden hike, the climbing can really be tiring. Despite having been given walking sticks, we made several breaks to catch some breath. At the park entrance, we got reminded of the rules once we got in contact with the gorillas.

Dos and don’ts while in their contact

We were told gorillas have bad memory of sticks, as they were often used by poachers. You are also advised to keep at least 7 meters away from a gorilla. These animals share 90% genes with humans so chances of contracting disease from them are high.

“When they charge, they want you to submit so you may squat. Once they get angry and start thumping their chests, you should hum back. If you notice it walking to you, don’t show you back, but rather walk backwards” our guide cautioned us.

Also, while you capture photos of gorillas, you must be cautious not to use flash light because they don’t like it.

The immediate part of the park is covered by bamboo and as you penetrate deeper, it’s a forest with tree species that have really stood a test of time. The sound of the rushing river stream can be heard as you carefully walk the mud covered ground.

Face to face with the gorillas

After an hour’s long journey, we finally got in contact with our long anticipated human like creatures.

We could see two gorillas going about their business and feeding on the shrubs. As we drew closer, others began emerging from the shrubs. The gorilla family we visited is ‘Isabukuru’, which is a family of 19. The Isabukuru family has a new member who was named in this year’s Kwita Izina.

One of the gorillas  eats an uprooted plant

One of the gorillas eats an uprooted plant

These gorillas spend most of the time alternating between feeding, fending for their little ones and scratching their furry bodies.

Others could be seen climbing trees and breaking branches and swinging. The park has about 200 plant species most of which are food for the gorillas. All these species are rich in water and that’s how the mammals keep hydrated. Luckily for the 1 hour we spent in their midst, none of them showed irritation.

“A gorilla eats 30kgs of food in a day. This food constitutes 17 litres of water content” said our guide.

The life span of a gorilla is 35-45 years but we were told females tend to live longer. Every individual gorilla has a unique nose print to the rest. This therefore makes it easy to easily track it.

Isabukuru, the silver back and head of family

Isabukuru, the silver back and head of family

In the national park, there are 20 different gorilla families which were created by splitting. When a male is not contented with the goings on, it splits away from the family and goes with a female.

Trackers also play a significant role in the park to endure that these gorillas are protected from poachers. They make sure they keep timely track of where the gorillas are. The park has about 100 trackers who keep in close communication through walkie talkies.

We were told that there hasn’t been a case of poaching gorillas in the last 14 years. However there are some few cases where people set traps to catch antelopes and buffaloes.


On the slopes and neighboring communities, there’s farming activity. We could see people weeding and others digging in their gardens.

Musanze district is famous for being Rwanda’s biggest producer of Irish potatoes. This is because there’s plenty of volcanic soils that are favorable for the crop. A significant number of people in the area also grow pyrethrum is another crop that is largely grown. Families also rare 1 -3 cows on zero grazing.
Youths in Mbarara finally received their livelihood empowerment funds at the district offices in Kamukuzi on Tuesday.

The news came in as relief to a number of district officials who were coming under pressure, approved as all neighboring districts had received theirs.

The CAO Mbarara district Felix Cuthbert Ethoko advised the youths to make meetings, visit web resolve and spend it productively, viagra 60mg to make the project liable.

“I know your money has delayed because it was issued early June, thankfully its now here; use it profitably” Cuthbert said.

At the meeting, the district chairman Deus Tumusime thanked the CAO for pushing hard for the release of the funds saying that it was becoming a nightmare with youth groups frequenting his office since June.

Deus appealed to the youth to utilize the funds usefully without diverting it to unproductive ventures.

The Chairman asked the youth groups to work with sub county chiefs and focal persons to avoid risks which might result into challenges like failure to refund and arrests.


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