Saturday, 13 July 2013

History of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

In 1932, two blocks of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were designated as Crown Forest Reserves. The Northern block was designated as the "Kayonza Crown Forest Reserve," and the Southern block designated as the "Kasatora Crown Forest Reserve." [2][5] These reserves had a combined area of 207 square kilometres (80 sq mi). In 1942, the two Crown Forest Reserves were combined and enlarged,[2] and renamed the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest.[5] This new protected area covered an area of 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi)[2] and was under the joint control of the Ugandan government's game and forest departments.[5]
In 1964, the reserve was designated as an animal sanctuary[6] in order to provide extra protection to its mountain gorillas[2] and renamed the Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve.[6] In 1966, two other forest reserves became part of the main reserve, increasing its area to almost 321 square kilometres (124 sq mi).[2] The park continued to be managed as both a game sanctuary and forest reserve.[6]
In 1991, Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve—along with Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and Rwenzori Mountains Reserve—was designated as a national park and renamed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.[2][7] It covered an area of 330.8 square kilometres (127.7 sq mi).[6] The national park was declared in part to protect a range of species within it, most notably the mountain gorilla.[8] The reclassification of the park has a large impact on the Batwa pygmy people, who were evicted from the forest and no longer permitted to enter the park or access its resources.[9] Gorilla tracking became a tourist activity in April 1993, and the park became a popular tourist destination.[2] In 1994, a 10-square-kilometre (3.9 sq mi) area was incorporated into the park. In 1994, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List.[2] The park's management changed: Uganda National Parks, since renamed Uganda Wildlife Authority, became responsible for the park.[10] In 2003 a piece of land next to the park with an area of 4.2 square kilometres (1.6 sq mi) was purchased and incorporated into the park.[11]
In March 1999, a force of 100-150 former Rwandan Interahamwe guerrillas infiltrated across the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and kidnapped 14 foreign tourists and their Ugandan guide from the park headquarters, eventually releasing 6 and murdering the remaining 8 with machetes and clubs; several victims were reportedly tortured, at least one of the female victims was raped, and the Ugandan guide was doused with gasoline and lit on fire.[12] The Interahamwe attack was reportedly intended to "destabilize Uganda" and frighten away tourist traffic from the park, depriving the Ugandan government of vital income. The park was forced to close for several months and the popularity of the gorilla tours suffered badly for several years, though attendance has since recovered due to greater stability in the area. An armed guard also now accompanies every tour group