Chimping In Uganda
Many tourists flock Uganda every year to be part of the Gorilla trekking experience which is perhaps Uganda’s biggest tourism draw, focus and emphasis. Although the endangered mountain Gorillas of Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park are really a great attraction, there are lot more to a Uganda safari than just gorilla trekking; Uganda is also the home of the chimpanzees. Although the mountain gorillas are known for being mankind’s closest cousin, chimpanzees share more DNA similarities with that of humans than the gorillas do. The chimpanzees share a DNA of 97.8% compared to the 96% in the gorillas.
Chimpanzees are more vigorous and less predictable primates. Chimpanzees are believed to have broken away from the human evolution four to six million years ago compared to the gorillas that broke away 10 million years ago. The chimpanzees are very sociable animals and are scientifically known as Pan troglodytes. Led by the alpha male, chimpanzees have a complex social structure and reside in troops just like other primates do. Chimpanzees have an interesting way of resolving conflict or better yet to even prevent them from happening they couple up. More than half of their day is spent eating, sleeping and playing. They spend approximately 9 hours sleeping.
Just like humans, both the male and female chimpanzees alike struggle for dominance in their troops to raise their social standing in a group. However, the males also seek dominance for mainly mating previlleges and sometimes for violence domination. On the other hand, the females seek dominance for resources and favors from the alpha male.
Chimpanzees live in communities of individuals in a similar way to humans, which means they do not move around in one group like gorillas or other monkeys but split up and come back together at intervals in what is termed a ‘fission-fusion’ society, they can be aggressive because they are very territorial. According to Some researchers, chimpanzees have the ability to take care of the orphaned chimpanzees, abandoned or helpless young chimps whether from their troops or from other troops or their own troops. They are indeed selfless and caring creatures with loads of empathy. Just like human, chimpanzees have emotions too with the ability to mourn death, rejoice by trumpeting to good news that excites them and also celebrate new births.
These highly intelligent creatures, construct both day and night nests on a daily basis because they never sleep in the same nest again also given that they spend the most part of the day sleeping. It takes them at most 5 minutes to build a new nest from one or more thin tree branches and leaves. The muhimbi tree is considered to be their favorite tree to build their nests and just like humans, they can pass on their traits to their young ones and could also pass on their dormancy as well.
With all these amazing characteristics one needs to consider a chimpanzee trekking safari. Journeys Uganda limited will be here to help you plan the primates trekking safari starting with a prior booking of the chimpanzee trekking. If you are to trek the chimpanzees you need to book your permit prior to your Uganda safari. As such once you have secured your chimpanzee trekking permit it is important to rise up early on the trekking day. You will assemble at the park headquarters in Kanyanchu for a briefing on the behavior expected of you during the trekking experience. There are a number of dos and don’ts while trekking the chimpanzees. There after you will embark on one of the most exciting adventures of a lifetime. You will spend the biggest part of your day following the and interacting with the chimpanzees along with an experienced ranger guide and a researcher. The ranger and the researcher prepare the chimpanzees for your presence. Experience the chimpanzees, de nest from their overnight nests to building their day nests. You can decide the half day chimpanzee trekking experience where you search for the chimpanzees and when you finally meet them spend and hour with them before returning back. Or you could choose a chimpanzee habituation experience. The chimpanzees are a delight to watch as they crash through the undergrowth or swing through the tree tops as well as doze. The most popular place for chimpanzee trekking on a Uganda safari is the Kibale forest National Park also known as the primate’s capital. Inspite of Kibale forest National Park being the primate’s capital and the most popular place to trek these playful chimpanzees, it is not the only place to catch the playful chimpanzees.
Other places you could trek the chimpanzees in Uganda include;
Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park popularly known as the valley of apes. The Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park is also a home to these playful relatives of man. The chimpanzees here have been habituated for human presence and trekking. The kyambura gorge is a fine home to a number of habituated chimps. It is not a very popular chimpanzee trekking destination yet it offers tremendous views of the primates and can also be coupled with a wildlife safari experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The gorge is an extension of the kyambura game reserve. The dense tropical forest is rather physically tasking if you are to trek the chimpanzees but the rewards of the abundant birdlife and mammals in this thick underground forest.
Kaniyo pabid and Busingiro found in Budongo forest reserve apart of the southern sector of Murchison falls conservation area. This tropical rain forest’s beauty is submerged in the savanna plains that make it a sight worth beholding. It is here that yet another population of chimpanzee’s call home along with a number of other primates that you just may encounter on a quiet nature walk through these thick green canopies coupled with numerous bird songs and the only place in Eastern African with the Guinea-Congo biome endemics.
Ngamba Island an orphanage for chimpanzee which is surrounded by the peaceful waters of Lake Victoria is home to 48 individuals rescued from different parts of the country. Island visitors are offered an e opportunity to closely observe and interact with these fascinating great apes in this unique setting, very early morning walks are done in company of chimps hanging on your shoulders and putting your hair together!
Semliki wildlife reserve is positioned closer to the Congolese border and also shares a boundary with the Semliki Valley National Park. In this cozy, quiet and serene savannah forest, there is a fifty fifty chance that you will come across the chimps. However if you come across them they will be much more fun to watch as they go bipedal like humans venturing into the open savanna of Semliki.
Kalinzu forest reserve is located in the southwestern part of Uganda near Queen Elizabeth National Park and almost attached to the Maramagambo forest with an approximated area of 375 square kilometers. Chimp tracking is the most amazing activity but bird walks and butterfly viewing are among the activities here. A visitor on a safari to Uganda should visit one of these places to meet up our close cousins!
It is very important to note that there are many unhabituated populations of chimps in the different National Park, Forest and Wildlife reserves in Uganda and noted below where surveys have been conducted from 1999; Bugoma, Kasato, Wambabya, Kagombe, Ibambaro, Kitechura and Matiri forest reserves, Kasyoha-Kitomi near the Kalinzu Forest, Echuya Forest Reserve, Itwara Forest Reserve, Muhangi Forest Reserve and Ruwenzori Mountains National park respectively.
Threats to Chimpanzees in Uganda
The threats facing the chimps in Uganda can be grouped into a smaller subset of categories which include; Encroachment or forest loss, fishing and animal collecting, Bush meat hunting, Local community use of plants (timber, firewood, and medicinal plants), Increased access to the forest (roads, mining, access to water, grazing, fire), Conservation activities (tourism and research), Crop-raiding from neighboring farmers thus killings with traps and other means.