The Nabagereka of Buganda, Lady Sylvia Nagginda on 15th October 2005 became the first queen in the whole world to track the rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and what a great time she had!
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a local non-governmental organisation for which the Nabagereka is patron, arranged the visit. CTPH were launching their tele-centre, and the Nabagereka was the chief guest. The tele-centre gives tourists an opportunity to communicate with home while in Bwindi.
Climbing steep hills, crossing wide rivers, negotiating her way through the thick jungle, the Nabagereka courageously took one step at a time with a group of 7 other trackers until, after three hours of tracking, they found the gigantic and amazing gorillas of the Habinyanja family. This is one of the biggest of the habituated gorilla families with 22 members.
The Nabagereka was thrilled by the experience, and later described it as “an experience out of this world”. She promised that the next time, she would be more prepared and fit for the exercise that began at 9.00am and ended after 5.00pm.
“It was such a challenge and it was the greatest adventure of my life, going through the forest, slipping and frantically clutching at the shrubs to avoid falling, finally seeing the gorillas, it was really amazing,” the Nabagereka said.
She said the gorilla are quite fascinating to watch, although they can be intimidating especially when they stand to their full height. Two Buganda ministers accompanied the Nabagereka including the Minister for the Royal Treasury Hon. Apollo Makubuya, and the Minister for Women Affairs, Hon. Apollonia Lugemwa.
Asked whether she would do it again, the Nabagereka answered, “I would do it again, and I would be more prepared. I would do exercises consistently for at least a month.”
There are just over 700 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, and over half of these are found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Nabagereka is the second known prominent Ugandan, after President Yoweri Museveni, to track the Bwindi gorillas.