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Bwindi National Park in Uganda is home to various endangered and protected species of animals. Their population of mountain gorillas makes up over half the population of the entire world’s mountain gorillas. There are just over 1000 mountain gorillas in the world and over 600 of them live in Bwindi National Park. The gorilla population in Bwindi was just 300 in 1997, the rigorous protection by park workers has helped to remove the mountain gorilla species from the critically endangered list. They are now considered endangered.

Bwindi National Park announced that they have been experiencing a “baby boom” in recent weeks. There have been five births of baby gorillas within six weeks. This brings the total of new babies in 2020 to seven. The number of births this year has already far surpassed all of 2019, there were only three births in 2019. Workers at the park are uncertain as to why there has been such an unprecedented increase in births this year.

The births have come at a difficult time for the park. Bwindi partially relies on tourism which has been completely halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is of particular concern to the park due to the fact that gorillas share so much of their DNA with humans. It is believed that gorillas and other primates could be susceptible to catching COVID-19 because they possess the same enzyme as humans that COVID uses to enter the body. It is therefore incredibly important to keep COVID-19 out of the primate community because it would be almost impossible to flatten the curve if they became infected.

Bwindi has started to reintroduce visits to the park, albeit with extreme precaution. Groups of visitors will be kept small, masks are required and social distancing is mandatory. Poaching has also been a concern during the pandemic. The gorillas at Bwindi are protected by armed guards to deter poachers but there were worries that COVID restrictions could limit their ability to protect the animals. One of the best-known gorillas in Bwindi park, Rafiki, was killed by poachers during the pandemic in June. His killer has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing an endangered animal, although this is much lower than the life sentence he could have received.

The announcement of the “baby boom” is especially welcome after the death of Rafiki. The conservation of the mountain gorilla population is a very delicate process as park workers fight poaching, and now, the coronavirus pandemic. The “baby boom” seems to be a sign that conservationists are winning the fight.

Difficult words

Rigorous (adj): Extremely careful about every detail.

Boom (n): A period of rapid growth or success.

Halt (v): To come to a sudden stop.

Primate (n): Mammals which have similar hands and feet to humans and forward facing eyes such as monkeys, apes and gorillas.

Susceptible (adj): Likely to be influenced or harmed by a certain thing.

Enzyme (n): A substance produced by a living thing that creates a chemical reaction.

Albeit (Conjunction): Though, but, although.

Poaching (v): To illegally hunt on land that is not yours or hunt protected animals.

Deter (v): To discourage someone or something from doing an action.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. RigorousA. Growth
2. BoomB. Creates a body reaction.
3. HaltC. Vulnerable
4.  PrimateD. Hunt
5. SusceptibleE. Careful
6. EnzymeF. Discourage
7. AlbeitG. Stop
8. PoachingH. Although
9. DeterI. Monkey

True or False?

  1. Bwindi National Park accepts all animals in any situation.  T / F

2. Bwindi park holds the entire world’s population of mountain gorillas. T / F

3. The mountain gorilla population has increased in recent years. T / F

4. Workers at the park know the exact cause of the baby boom. T / F

5. Bwindi park has remained open for visitors throughout the pandemic. T / F

6.  Gorillas and other primates could possibly contract Covid-19. T / F

7. No DNA is shared between primates and humans. T / F

8. Visitors are required to wear a mask when visiting Bwindi park. T / F

9. One of the park’s biggest threats is poachers. T / F

10. The last poacher to kill a gorilla at Bwindi park was given a life sentence in prison. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1.  over / There / world / in / the / mountain gorillas / just / are / 1000

2.  baby gorillas / five / of / There / births / within / six weeks / been / have

3.  births / difficult time / for / the / a / park / have / at / The / come

4. the / pandemic / The / concern / park / particular / is / to / of

5.  a / has / the / also / concern / been / Poaching / pandemic / during

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English:

TourismPossessRecent
ProtectionReintroduceUncertain
ConservationVariousEndangered

Bwindi National Park in Uganda is home to (1)____________ endangered and protected species of animals. Their population of mountain gorillas makes up over half the population of the entire world’s mountain gorillas. There are just over 1000 mountain gorillas in the world and over 600 of them live in Bwindi National Park. The gorilla population in Bwindi was just 300 in 1997, the rigorous (2)______________ by park workers has helped to remove the mountain gorilla species from the critically endangered list. They are now considered endangered.

Bwindi National Park announced that they have been experiencing a “baby boom” in (3)_________ weeks. There have been five births of baby gorillas within six weeks. This brings the total of new babies in 2020 to seven. The number of births this year has already far surpassed all of 2019, there were only three births in 2019. Workers at the park are (4)____________ as to why there has been such an unprecedented increase in births this year.

The births have come at a difficult time for the park. Bwindi partially relies on (5)____________ which has been completely halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is of particular concern to the park due to the fact that gorillas share so much of their DNA with humans. It is believed that gorillas and other primates could be susceptible to catching COVID-19 because they (6)___________the same enzyme as humans that COVID uses to enter the body. It is therefore incredibly important to keep COVID-19 out of the primate community because it would be almost impossible to flatten the curve if they became infected.

Bwindi has started to (7)______________ visits to the park, albeit with extreme precaution. Groups of visitors will be kept small, masks are required and social distancing is mandatory. Poaching has also been a concern during the pandemic. The gorillas at Bwindi are protected by armed guards to deter poachers but there were worries that COVID restrictions could limit their ability to protect the animals. One of the best-known gorillas in Bwindi park, Rafiki, was killed by poachers during the pandemic in June. His killer has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing an (8)______________ animal, although this is much lower than the life sentence he could have received.

The announcement of the “baby boom” is especially welcome after the death of Rafiki. The (9)_______________ of the mountain gorilla population is a very delicate process as park workers fight poaching, and now, the coronavirus pandemic. The “baby boom” seems to be a sign that conservationists are winning the fight.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Have you ever seen a baby gorilla?
5. Would you like to visit a conservation park like Bwindi?
6. Are there any animal conservation parks in your country?
7. Are there any endangered animals in your country?
8. What is your favourite animal? Why?
9. How can endangered animals be better protected?
10. What do you think about the 11 year sentence for the person who killed Rafiki?
11. Should places with primates allow visitors during the coronavirus pandemic?
12. Should there be more places in the world that are only for animals?
13. How important is it to protect animals?
14. Are zoos good or bad for animals?
15. What do you think about hunting non-endangered animals?
16. Are there any dangerous animals in your country?
17. Is it easy to find wild animals where you live?
18. Does you country have a lot of nature?
19. What animal have you never seen that you would like to see?
20. How can people be educated about protecting animals?