Chimpanzee Tracking and Habituation Experience in Uganda
Uganda is commonly referred to to the primate capital; Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda is the second biggest adventure attraction in Uganda, next to gorilla tracking.
Chimpanzees are the closest primate species to humans, sharing about 98% of their genes with the human race, making the chimps extraordinary. Chimpanzees are very intelligent animals, sociable and also communicate in a way different from other animals. Their ability to handle or use tools in their day to day life, for example, stones to crack nuts and pods or leaves to scoop water and sticks to draw items nearer, is outstanding.
A Chimpanzee can weigh about 25 to 70 Kilograms; these Apes are estimated to have a life span of 50 years. They live in communities of about 100 – 150 individuals. However, a community can go as low as ten members. Chimpanzees are generally fruit and plant eaters, but they also eat insects, eggs and meat. However, you are advised not to feed them. For this reason, it’s prohibited to consume food while tracking chimps in all Uganda conservation areas.
It is believed that only about 300,0000 individuals remain in the world due to several challenges they face. These include poaching and habitat loss due to encroachment on the forest reserves by humans for; settlements, farming, and other activities. This is causing a steady decrease in the chimpanzee population worldwide.
In Uganda, Chimpanzees are found in Kibale Forest National Park, Kyambura forest reserve in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Budongo Forest reserve, all with habituated groups with possibilities of chimpanzee tracking. There are many other forest reserves where we have unhabituated chimpanzee groups. Ngamba Island is home to over 50 rescued Chimpanzees; here, chimps can be seen feeding and sharing an experience of their lifestyle.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale Forest National Park
Chimp Tracking is the most popular activity in Kibale forest National Park. The experience takes place at Kanyancu trailhead, from where most of the habituated chimp families are accessed. Chimpanzee tracking takes place in two shifts. The first one starts at 8 am, and the last one at 2 pm. Tracking can last for 3-4 hours with a limited number of 6 people per group. This is done to minimise the adverse effects of trampling the vegetation as we sustainably conserve the ecosystem.
Before chimpanzee tracking in Kibale starts, an advanced team of rangers/ trackers go into the forest ahead of your group to trace where the chimps spent a night last, and keep communicating with your group on radio calls to help you find the chimps. Features like nests, fresh droppings, and chimpanzee calls are significant in locating the chimps during a tracking session.
Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale is also referred to as a primate walk, as you will have a chance of observing some of the 13 primate species in this forest. You have 90%, and higher chances of observing chimps in Kibale as communities here are accustomed to human presence; some of the communities have been tracked for many years since 1993.
The age limit for tracking chimpanzees is 13 years, a little below the gorilla trekking age limit in Uganda.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda
On a Chimpanzee habituation experience, visitors accompany the research team on the chimpanzees into the forest. Early visitors can watch chimpanzees leave their overnight nests at around 6:00 – 6:30 am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it’s time to create new nests in the evening around 6:00 – 7:00 pm.
The process is intended to study the characteristics of these Primates. You can choose to experience the habituation for a full day or even a half-day.
The Chimpanzee communities involved in the habituation are less accustomed to human presence, unlike those on the primate walk; observing them is exciting but challenging.
Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge – Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kyambura Forest is an underground forest; Chimpanzee tracking experience here is more than observing the chimps in their natural habitat. It rewards the partakers with chances to study the ecosystem of the underground forest cover. Some other species include monkeys, birds and vegetation cover, which you will identify and learn their behaviour.
Much as you may have no guarantee of seeing chimps in this forest, you can never miss their sound or a distant glimpse on a trip of about three hours in the gorge.
Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest
Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is located in Bushenyi District in western Uganda. A 147 square kilometre forest cover habituates Primate species, Chimpanzees and Colobus Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Black and White and Vervet Monkeys. Chimpanzee tracking experiences start at 8 am from the forest headquarters, where you will get your guides for a briefing and then heat the forest to track the chimps. The Kalinzu experience lasts about 3 hours in the forest.
Some of the information on this page is sourced from; AWF.
Uganda Chimpanzee Tracking Safaris
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