Many times I have been asked this question by my clients; what are the chances of seeing gorillas? Are there people who have ever missed ?
Gorillas tracking for most people (save for a few who have done it more than once) is once life time experience. Its generally an expensive activity in terms of time, flight costs,lodging costs, gorillas permit cost etc. So people are always worried that after spending that much,if they will actually see the gorillas in the jungle.
Well, from experience, this is what are always tell my clients. The Chance of seeing gorillas are always high but with mature we never guarantee anything. I would say that the chances are about 90%. We leave an allowance of 10% to nature which we have no control over. I have been taking people to the gorillas for the last 10 years or so, and I have not had anyone missing but I know some of my colleagues who have had their people miss
Its important to note that gorilla tracking is done with gorilla families that are fully habituated. Meaning they have undergone many years of getting them get familiar to people’s presence. These families are also monitored on daily basis by rangers to monitor their movements and establish their feeding areas. Also before you embark on your tracking in the morning, tracker rangers will have left very early in the morning to find where they are feeding from,before tourist enter the jungle. The ranger guide leading the group is always in constant communication with the trackers directing him or her where to find them and which routes to take.
The trackers starting tracking the gorilla movements from where they left them the previous day. They don’t normally walk very far. Gorillas are only active during the day, in the evening, they make nests and sleep throughout the night. They resume activities again in the morning. Therefore the chances that they will have moved very far from where they were left yesterday are very slim.
In cases where people have missed seeing them, the following could be possible causes
1. When two families meet and fight may be because an alfa male from one family is trying to grab females from another family
2. When gorilla meet with forest elephants, it becomes hard for trackers to know which track to follow
3. When trackers encounter wild gorillas or elephants that are aggressive and they have to scare shoot gun shots in the air to chance them away. In this case they may also scare the gorillas family they were tracking which may run way too deep in the jungle hard to reach
4. During fruiting season when gorillas are not stable moving from place to place looking for fruits
5. During dry seasons where gorillas move way up in the mountains looking for the food
6. Lastly when some one is not fit enough to hike steep mountains