The Kibale forest has three habituated communities of chimpanzees and two of these are used for chimpanzee trekking while the other one is for chimpanzee habituation. For one to trek chimps in Kibale National Park, he/she has to budget for a chimpanzee permit which can be obtained at Uganda Wildlife Authority head office in Kampala. A chimp permit for Kibale National Park costs $150 per person per trek either in the morning or afternoon. It allows you to stay with chimpanzees for up to one hour but the walk is punctuated with plant and bird identification as it is always guided by well informed and knowledgeable Uganda Wildlife authority ranger guides. The $150 caters for park entry fees, viewing chimpanzees in their natural habitat as well as the pay for the guide who takes you to the forest. While on the trek you should look out for the black & white colobus, red tailed monkey or the grey cheeked mangabey. Your guides might also be able to show you pittas & different bird species and will give details of the tradition of the plant species within the forest. This walk is usually for 6 people in a group. Advance booking is all-important especially during peak seasons of chimp trekking.
Chimps can also be found at the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest, Ngamba Island which is home to orphaned and rescued chimps plus the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.
The average weight of an adult well grown male chimpanzee is between 35 and 70 kilograms, with an approximate height of 3 meters whereas an adult female chimpanzee weighs between 26 and 50 kilograms and a height between 2 and 4 feet.
A chimpanzee’s life span is at 40 years for those in the wild while for those living in captivity can live even up to 60 years because they are under protection.
In Uganda today, a lot has been actually done to conserve the chimpanzees due to extensively acknowledged and good support form conservation centers, foundations and government at large. For example The Jane Goodall Foundation has played a major role in the overall conservation of not only these Chimpanzees but the Gorillas as well found in Uganda.
Chimpanzees are the closest relatives to humans sharing about 98.7% of their DNA composition with humans. They are Sociable, intelligent as well as communicative and among their very fascinating traits is the ability to utilize tools like rocks for crushing nuts, sticks to harvest honey and termites, empty pods for hollowing out water. These skills are for long been passed on from generation to another and researchers say that different troops have specialist tasks, basing on their habitat as well as diet.
Chimps stay in groups of 10 – 100 members and they have a leader. They can babysit each other’s young, kiss, groom one another and even hold hands. The young chimps become independent at the age of 4 years. Nonetheless, chimps can be aggressive and unsociable, mainly if disturbed.
Although they spend some time on ground, they normally feed and do make their sleeping nests up in the trees. Their diet varies comprising of leaves, seeds, fruit and also flowers.
Chimpanzee tracking has rules and regulations.
- A distance of just about 8m is very important between you and the chimps.
- People with diseases such as flue or diarrhea may not be allowed in the park because they can easily spread to the chimps since we have the same DNA.
- Avoid eating near the chimps; this might make them aggressive since they might want to have what you eating.
- Children below the age of 12 are prohibited from entering the park.
- Guide is the only one to help get access to the forest.
- Chimps need freedom therefore no provoking them once you enter the park.
- Flash photography is not allowed in the park.