Forest in Uganda . Picture: Morgan Mbabazi
By HALIMA ABDALLAH (email the author)
The website will also have other sections
like Geo-Track, where one can track gorillas
using actual Global Positioning System
co-ordinates that the authority's gorilla trackers
will be provided with regularly.
In addition, the site will have
a section for virtual tracking.
Gorilla lovers will be able to track the gorillas
online in real time.
Fees for the electronic tracking are yet
to be determined.
Currently, the authority charges
$500 per permit per day to track
a single family.
We shall have cameras placed strategically
in the forest and when you log on,
you can see a gorilla moving in the forest
from your screen," said Thomas Slater Jr,
art director at QG Saatchi &Saatchi,
the company working on the project.
To befriend the primates, subscribers will pay
the one dollar by way of short messages
using their mobile phones, Master or
Online trackers will able to add gorillas
as friends on Internet social sites
such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.
If it succeeds, the project will make
The money will be used to hire more
trackers to bring the number to
45 from 25; buy communication equipment
for the trackers and a special
power generator that is less noisy.
"The money raised will also go towards
conservation efforts through community
projects and help bring the gorillas
to the living rooms of many more people,"
said Eunice Mahoro, tourism director at UWA.
The online gorilla tracking project is one
of the major marketing efforts undertaken
by the government, considering that gorillas
are the country's biggest tourism attraction.
Last year the industry earned the country
$600 million, of which $225 million
was from gorilla tourism.
Corporates have also been given a chance
to support the project by sponsoring
web pages for a whole year.
The new marketing strategy coincides
with the UN declaration of 2009
is the Year of the Gorilla.
The aim is to raise awareness on the need
to conserve gorillas, which are considered
endangered because of human activities
like habitat destruction through logging,
burning and clearing of land for agriculture,
hunting and trapping by poachers,
diseases and armed conflicts.
There are about 720 gorillas left worldwide,
half of which are in Uganda's Bwindi
The rest are found in the Virunga habitat
shared between Rwanda, Uganda and
DR Congo, with Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla
national park protecting the northern pvolcanic slopes.
The designers of the online strategy are
optimistic that the new marketing tool
will attract more gorilla tourists from
the United States and Europe
where millions of people have access
to the Internet and use social sites.
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