Commonly known as the “pygmies” the Batwa people lived with in the impenetrable forest of Bwindi with mountain gorillas until 1992 when the impenetrable forest was gazatted as a national park to protect and conserve the few mountain Gorillas that were running to instinct. By that time the mountain gorilla population globally was less than 500 individuals. Thanks to many conservation efforts that have seen the mountain gorilla population rise to more than 1600 individuals globally. It should be noted however that Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mount Mgahinga national parks in Uganda inhabits more than half of the mountain gorilla population with the rest of individuals shared within the Virunga massif of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo
Having lived in the forest with mountain gorillas for decades, the Batwa people saw mountain gorillas as their own relatives and never caused any harm to their cousins. The Batwa are known to be hunters and fruit gatherers and that’s how they lived their entire lives. While hunting, they never hunted mountain gorillas but instead hunted the small forest antelopes like the duikers, gazelles and mongoose
By 1992 when Bwindi impenetrable forest was designated as a national park and a world heritage site to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, the Batwa people were forcefully forced out of the forest and resettled them on the out skirts but of course never found life out of the forest easy. They kept sneaking back into the forest until they got used to people
Right now, the Batwa people are doing subsistence agriculture, and most of them have acquired skills of weaving and wood curving in order to earn a living. Thanks goes to Uganda wildlife authority which has given them support
A visit to the mountain gorillas would be incomplete if a guest miss out the Batwa community experience. This community experience will not only give you a clear picture of the Batwa life in the forest, but also will show you how their relationship with the mountain gorillas thrived without harming each other’s well-being.
The Batwa community experience can be tasted in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mount Mgahinga national park and Semlik national park. It’s a 2-3 hours visit but worth it. Depending on your schedule, you can have the cultural experience before or after Mountain gorilla tracking. Taste the feeling when you visit any of the mentioned protected areas
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