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The first extensive genetic map of the mountain gorilla population has been done by 23 scientists, based on samples taken from seven gorillas in the Virungas.
According to the study in the journal Science, the gorillas are mating with close relatives due to the small size of populations and are facing a considerable loss of genetic diversity leading.
Inbreeding can increase threats from disease and environmental change by reducing the genetic ability to adapt and cause harmful changes, exposing them to serious health conditions.
With only about 880 mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the gorillas are at a risk of extinction but the researchers still see reasons for optimism about their survival.
This study is a good reminder for Volcanoes Safaris guests who are going tracking to follow the rules and regulations as diseases transmitted from humans are one of the main threats to their survival.
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.