The Batwa, also called the “Twa,” are an African indigenous pygmy group that was once thought to be the custodians of the forests. They lived in the equatorial rainforests of Mgahinga and the impenetrable Bwindi before they were declared national parks. The Batwa people are around 1.5 meters tall on average, similar to other pygmies.

The Batwa pygmies have a high infant mortality rate, a short lifespan, and are among the world’s poorest people. These people have lived in the equatorial jungles for over 60,000 years, gathering fruits and going on wild hunts with bows and arrows.

A mutwa loves the forest as much as he loves his body, according to their proverb. Despite all of their detractors, the Twa people never engaged in any kind of deforestation, even though they were known to hunt and poach mountain gorillas in Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks. However, it is a truth that the Batwa people defended the rainforests up until the arrival of the Bantu tribes.

Following their arrival, the Bantu ethnic groups cleared the rainforests, farmed the land, and allowed their cattle to roam. In 1992, the Batwa people were forced to leave the forests after they established a national park with the goal of safeguarding the mountain gorillas. The Batwa people’s lives were drastically altered by the expulsion since they were forced to become conservation refugees, something they were not accustomed to. Their misery intensified because they received no compensation at all, and their talents and tools became useless in the new surroundings. Some of them turned to stealing, begging, and poaching as a result of all these events, earning them a reputation in their home regions of Uganda as petty criminals, inebriated, slothful, and marijuana users.

The Batwa culture.

The Batwa people’s cultures have been declining since their forced relocation in 1992, when they were denied the right to live in the forests. In 2011, Uganda Wildlife, in collaboration with USAID and the Dutch Embassy in Kampala, launched the Batwa cultural trail, which is situated in the Mgahinga gorilla park. Along this trail, Batwa residents guide park visitors and others who enjoy cultural tourism through the woodlands while teaching them about traditional gathering and hunting practices.

Since the Batwa guides share a portion of their earnings from Batwa trail fees with the other Batwas, this has greatly improved the Batwa way of life.

The Kellerman Foundation established the Batwa experience outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in addition to the Batwa trails in Mgahinga National Park. After going on a gorilla walk, tourists can relax and take in the customs of the Batwa people, including their dances, songs, clothes, and cuisine.

More about the Batwa: in collaboration with the Batwa community, the International Gorilla Conservation Program established the Buninga Batwa forest walk and a village visit program at the southern end of Bwindi forest. This keeps providing travelers with the opportunity to discover and experience the customs and culture of the Batwa people. Be aware that Buninga Forest is not a park of the impenetrable Bwindi Forest, despite having nearly the same kinds of plants, animals, and primates.

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