Stuart Butler narrates his encounter with a habituated chimpanzees in Uganda with beautiful words in one of lonely planet’s article, let’s take a look.
“Eyes trained on the canopy, the hunters slipped with speed and agility across the forest floor. Although communication was kept to a minimum everyone seemed certain of their role. Occasionally one of the party turned and shot a glance back at me, sweating and stumbling over branches and roots, far behind. Suddenly, a squeal of alarm reverberated through the forest. A docile group of beautiful colobus monkeys with coats the envy of a catwalk model had spotted the approaching hunting party.”
“As the colobus started to flee, pandemonium broke out on the forest floor. The hunters raced ahead, some hauled themselves up the trees and others gave chase from ground level. Screams and barks drowned out the bird song and deafened the insects. Things moved so fast over the next two minutes that I was unsure of what was happening. And then calm returned to the forest. The colobus had escaped and the frustrated hunters returned to the more leisurely pursuit of grooming one another. It was just another morning for chimpanzees in Uganda in Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park.”
Most safari enthusiast trek into Uganda to view the magnificent mountain gorillas but actually that’s not the only exciting ape in the country. Humankind’s closest relative (98% DNA), the chimpanzee, is found in a number of areas of Uganda. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has habituated some of these groups for human contact in the same way as the gorillas, and although their more energetic lifestyle and unpredictable nature makes them slightly less approachable, there’s no doubt that hanging out with chimps is one of the top safari highlights.
If you’re planning on taking a Uganda Safari, spare a day or two and visit the chimpanzees in Uganda in Kibale Forest National Park, it’s a great alternative to the mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga.
In Kibale Forest visitors can join daily chimpanzee trekking walks. These normally last around three hours with a maximum of one hour spent among the chimps. But there are those who want a more in-depth, personal immersion (group size is strictly limited), you can arrive at the park’s visitor centre in the pre-dawn gloom to set out on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience. This guarantees a full day with the chimps; tracking them as they crash through the undergrowth or swing through the tree tops, dozing as they doze and, if you’re very lucky, feeling your heart race in excitement as the apparently playful chimps turn determined killers on the hunt for monkeys.
Chimpanzees are fascinating beings. This list of Chimpanzee facts contains information about chimpanzee social behavior and natural habitat, along with facts about chimpanzee protection efforts.
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is found across Africa, from West Africa to Uganda and Tanzania in the east. The Eastern chimpanzee (P.t. schweinfurthii) is a subspecies that occurs in Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is one of the most extensively studied subspecies of chimpanzees, having been studied by Jane Goodall and others for over 50 years at some sites.
According to WCS Uganda, these studies have shown that they are very like humans, have infants every 3-4 years, become sexually mature at around 9-12 and are one of the few animal species to regularly use tools. For instance they fashion different tools to break open termite colonies or bee hives and then to fish out the termites or honey.
Eastern chimpanzee numbers are highest in the DRC but Uganda is home to a sizeable population estimated at about 5,000 individuals according to surveys WCS led with the Jane Goodall Institute in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Research stations that continue to study chimpanzees in Uganda include: The Budongo Conservation Forest Station (BCFS) in Budongo Forest Reserve, the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) in Kibale National Park, and the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Much of what we know about chimpanzee biology comes from research at these stations, together with those in Tanzania (Gombe and Mahale). WCS conservation scientist, Andrew Plumptre, has surveyed populations of Eastern chimpanzees in most of the countries where they occur. He estimates that there are 5,000 in Uganda, 2,700 in Tanzania, 350 in Rwanda and 450 in Burundi. It is clear that after the DRC, Uganda has the largest numbers of this subspecies of chimpanzee.
Chimpanzees face different threats depending on where they occur in Uganda. In the National Parks and Central Forest Reserves the main threat comes from accidental snaring in wire snares that have been set for ungulates. Snares such as these can maim or kill individuals.Estimates in Budongo Forest and Kibale NP show that about 20% of all individuals have been maimed in some way from snares.
Chimpanzees at the edge of Protected Areas can be targeted because of crop raiding activities. Many have been speared or caught in leg-hold traps that are set to deter them. Where chimpanzees occur outside protected areas they are vulnerable from habitat loss to agriculture as human populations expand. Disease is also a potential threat with studies in Kibale NP showing that the gut parasites of chimpanzees are very similar to those found in the people living near National Parks or interacting with them as tour guides or researchers.
Let’s quickly browse through chimps fact list you may need to know;
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