Why are Bwindi chimpanzees not habituated
The mountain gorillas are the most viewed attractions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park other than any others primates that live in the park. Although chimpanzees live amongst the habituated mountain gorilla families, they are more mobile and so habituating them may override the purpose for gorilla conservation, which is the gist of this park.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in South Western Uganda, which is the only place on Planet earth where mountain gorillas live with wild Chimpanzees. When you talk about Bwindi Forest as a National Park, what comes in the minds of people is gorilla tracking little knowing that in the same forest, are chimpanzees as well. This limited information about chimpanzees in Bwindi makes them invisible to interested visitors.
A lot of activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park runs around the mountain gorillas and other primates are referred to as others. Some of the other primates include chimpanzees, blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, red tails monkeys, black and white colobus, L‘Hoests’ to mention but a few.
If it is indeed true that the forest has wild communities of chimpanzees, why is it then that they are not habituated? There could be several reasons to explain this. What we have here are possibilities and not actual reasons.
Why are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Chimpanzees Not Habituated?
According to a research conducted by Stanford in 1997 in Nkuringo it was discovered that this area has chimpanzees that live in a community of about 40 members and when added to those in Buhoma, it was estimated that there could be approximately 350 to 400 individuals of Chimpanzees in the whole village. Of course since 1997 numbers should have increased because of better conservation measures in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
This research further revealed that Bwindi Chimpanzees are more visible than mountain gorillas and that they are more bipedal feeding on shrubs and trees. Chimpanzees in Kayonza were seen building nests on ground which is something unique that could attract the attention of tourists if habituated. To supplement there diet, the chimpanzees survive in Bwindi forest by using tools to extract honey as observed by researchers then.
Since the Bwindi Impenetrable National park Authorities have not openly come out to say why they have not been in position to habituate the chimpanzees, some of these reasons are just speculations. There are several reasons that can be advanced to explain why chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National park are not habituated.
Competition From Other Chimpanzee Trekking Destinations in Uganda
In Uganda there are better places with more chimpanzees in compared to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Kaniyo Pabidi within Budongo Forest Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale National park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest Reserve as well other forest in Uganda. These have more chimpanzees compared to Bwindi impenetrable National Park. This therefore means that in such places, researchers can afford to habituate some and leave others in their wild/natural status other than habituating the few that are in Bwindi Impenetrable National park.
The nature Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Topography
Compared to other forest in Uganda that have chimpanzees, Bwindi Impenetrable National park has the most challenging topography of all. Kibale National Park is a low land forest while Bwindi Impenetrable National park is a highland tropical rainforest. So this brings up a challenge with the fact that chimpanzees can be mobile sometimes. Trekking them in Bwindi Impenetrable National park could be a challenge compared in lowland regions of Kibale National Park.
Government Policy Through Uganda Wildlife Authority
Government policy of equal distribution of income generating resources could also be another reason as to why Bwindi Forest chimpanzees are not habituated. The government of Uganda prefers each region to have several attractions so that they can benefit from tourism and tourists visits.
If for example chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National park are habituated, it means that people might remove Kibale national park from the itinerary and prefer to do gorillas and chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National park instead. Most tourists will have no reason to visit other park for chimpanzee trekking them Bwindi Impenetrable National Park could be the country’s one stop center for primate safari
Protect The Ecosystems Of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is an ecotourism site and because of this they may not habituate chimpanzees as this will lead to more people coming to the forest. This therefore puts pressure on the limited natural resources in the forest.
The mountain gorillas the generally vegetarian, which means there life depends on the foliage in the forest. In case many people with different reasons for visiting the forest are admitted in to the forest, they may trample the vegetation limiting the food for the gorillas.
In a day, a mature gorilla needs to consume about 200 pounds of vegetation to support there sheer size throughout the day and night. This is one of the reasons for limiting the time to spend with the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking to only one hours. This is to allow them feed on enough foliage without interference. The mountain gorillas feed on bamboo, soft stems, leaves, fruits and others.
Limited Funding To carter For Both Chimpanzee Habituation and Gorilla Habituation
The financial support to the mountain gorilla researching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is still limited and so adding chimpanzee habituation will weigh down on the funds.
The mountain gorillas are the main reason for visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National park and so this must be given priority. Mountain gorillas were at the brim of extinction by the 1980s because of dubious human activities like poaching, encroaching on habitat and one of the reasons to reduce this was to bring humans close to them. In case you overwhelm the forest with uncontrolled different activities, the reason for gorilla habituation gets shattered.
May be Hard To Limit the Habituated chimpanzees From not Crossing the Habituated Mountain Gorilla area
Its would be a challenge to limit a community of chimpanzees from not crossing to where the gorilla families are living. This gives no purpose to the tourists to pay for both activities that is gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking since they can freely watch them concurrently which may limit the fund accumulated to support the conservation purpose of this forest which is mountain gorillas.
Limited Professional Staff (rangers) To support both Activities
Training the ranger guides takes time and individual effort which is not an easy task. The rangers have to physically learn about Bwindi Impenetrable national park dwellers and have correct information at their fingertips. This is not a one-day achievement so a lot time is needed to create such a person. In case chimpanzee trekking is added to the activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park activities then attention for knowledge is subdivided. This creates a less informed group of staff for Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The Nature Of the chimpanzees compared To the Mountain gorillas
In nature, the chimpanzees are faster in locomotion than mountain gorillas so when both are habituated in the same forest Bwindi Impenetrable National park, chaos may be created in the forest. Those searching for the chimpanzees may walk through a session of those doing gorilla trekking in order to catch up with the chimpanzees. This may create a chaotic scene in the forest.
The purpose of paying a hefty price for a gorilla permit is to exhaust the entire hour of gorilla viewing without interference. The gorillas may go into hiding in case they are ambushed by more tourists including those doing chimpanzee trekking, which is frustrating.
Cause Mass Tourism In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable National park is a biosphere reserve and so having a huge number of tourists visiting at the same time may overwhelm its resources. Bwindi, which locally means Impenetrable, is an ancient forest that is believed to have survived the ice age period. This name is suitable for the nature of this forest. The forest has survived over 250000 years harboring lots of fauna and flora, which currently exists in few places in the world.
Its unique nature prompted the conservation bodies both local and international to evict the Batwa Pygmies whose life had been depending on the forest provision since time memorial. They were relocated into the close by local communities. They have a lot of interesting stories about the forest and how they survived in it. All this heritage is lost and can only be demonstrated through songs, dances and other cultural performances. To keep the purpose for doing this eviction, even the number of tourists must be controlled.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that all chimpanzees in Bwindi Impenetrable National park are not habituated at the moment and we wait to see if the government/researchers will look at it in the near future.
When To Visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
For whatever reason you choose to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National park, its is open throughout the year. The most desired time however is the dry season that is June to September or December to January when less rains are received. The ground receives some sunray penetration to keep it drier and rivers do not overflow.
The nature of the soil in this park is volcanic which gets slippery when too much water flows over it. The severe wet seasons normally have soggy grounds, which makes the trek in the forest quite challenging in case you need to hike to get to the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking. The wet season is normally March to May and November.
Even birding in Bwindi Forest is more interesting in the drier seasons when the birds come out freely from there nest to feed or construct nests.
What To Pack For A Tour To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Packing for a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National park must be relevant to the activities you hope to do while on ground. Over packing may create discomfort for you while under packing may cause you not to have fun during your Africa Safari.
- Safari tracking boot for you to wear and protect your feet from getting injured while in the wilderness especially when walking over soggy surfaces.
- A camera, which is soundproof in case you have to do gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable National Park. The Mountain gorillas are frightened by unfamiliar sounds in there vicinity.
- Insect repellant to keep stinging insects away from hurting you.
- Safari hat to protect your head from flying insects and water dripping off the tree leaves.
- First Aid Kit to use for administering emergency treatment in case you get an accident while on safari
- A pair of pajamas for nighttime dressing as you go to sleep
- Safari attire in colors that are wilderness friendly that is to say Khaki and tan. They must be long trousers and shirt that can protect you from the harsh conditions in the forest that you may come across like stinging nettles.
- A waterproof backpack to carry in your belongings when in the forest
- A travel adapter and charger to use in case your batteries run low
- Extra battery to use in the camera or any gadgets that are suitable
- Toiletries just in case your lodge doesn’t provide them.
- Garden gloves for you to protect your hand from rough surfaces you may touch as you trek through slippery ground and soggy surfaces.
- A duffel bag that you can carry by yourself in case you have to load your own bags. The bags you carry must not be an inconvenience to you especially if you have to share car space with others.
- Purchase travel insurance just in case you need while on safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National park.
- Some hard cash to use on ground just in case you need to do some transactions. Credit cards are rarely used in Africa as a means of exchange because of the lengthy procedure of obtaining money off them. You may change a part of the hard cash in to local currency in order to purchase items on ground.
- A pair of Binoculars especially for keen birders visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National park. They help bring closer far ranging features.
Contact us for more information about chimpanzees in Bwindi.