Chimpanzee tracking is the process of searching for the chimpanzees in their natural wild. Chimpanzees are believed to share 98% DNA with human beings making them the closest cousins to human beings.
The chimpanzees behave almost similar to human beings in the way they do their work with the only difference being that they walk on four legs, though they are also able to walk on two legs. They like swinging in trees from branch to branch and move efficiently in the trees, where they do most of their eating, and also usually sleep in the trees by building nests of leaves.
Chimps are generally fruit and plant eaters, but they also consume insects, eggs, and meat, including carrion. They have a tremendously varied diet that includes hundreds of known foods.
Being the closest to human beings in even the way they behave, the Chimpanzees are one of the few animal species that employ tools. They can shape and use sticks to retrieve insects from their nests or dig grubs out of logs, use stones to smash open tasty nuts and employ leaves as sponges to soak up drinking water.
The chimpanzees when taught, they can adopt to human sign languages making them able to communicate effectively with human beings.
An adult male chimpanzee can weigh between 35 and 70 kilograms, with a height of approximately 3 meters whereas the adult female chimpanzee weighs between 26 and 50 kilograms and a height between 2 and 4 feet, and their life expectancy is at 40 years for the wild chimps whereas that for those living in captivity can extend up to 60 years.
They live in social communities of several dozen animals, and can habituate themselves to African rain forests, woodlands, and grasslands.
The female chimps are able to give birth any time of the year and the babies cling on to the backs and stomach as they are bred until they are at the age of two years. The females can produce at the age of thirteen years and the adults can only be considered mature at sixteen years.
Where to Go Chimpanzee Tracking
In Uganda, the chimpanzees live in the tropical rain forests and there are several forests that are habitat to the chimpanzees.
In some forests, the chimpanzees are habituated for tracking and in some other forests, they just live there for habitat but not habituated for tracking by human beings.
Some of the area in Uganda where the chimpanzees are tracked include Kibale Forest national park, Semliki National park, Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National park, Kalinju Forest and Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth national Park. You can enjoy a Uganda Safari that features chimpanzee tracking from one of the licensed safari outfitters operating in Uganda.
Kibale Forest National park has the highest concentration of chimpanzees in Uganda with the estimated number being over 1000 chimps and they live in groups of 20-100 members.
Most people in Uganda think Kibale National Park is the only place to go for a good chimp tracking experience. I heartily disagree. I have always been a big fan of Kaniyo-Pabidi forest near Murchison Falls National Park. Not only is the chimp tracking excellent, but it is easy to combine with a safari in Murchison – by far the best park in Uganda by my reckoning. Don’t miss chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National park. Within this forest there is an estimated population of over 200 chimps.
The other chimps are in Kyambura gorge and Karinju forest and these are estimated at over 300 chimps both combined.
How Chimpanzee Tracking is Conducted
Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National park starts with briefing Kanyanchu Visitor center at 08.00 & 15.00 and lasts 2 to 3 hours. The chimps are the most sought after primate by tourists after gorilla tracking, but in Kibale forest particularly, for the black & white colobus, red tailed monkey or the grey cheeked mangabey. Your guides will be able to show you pittas & different bird species and will give details of the variety of the flora and fauna within the forest.
Like the gorilla tracking experience, Chimpanzee tracking also has rules and regulations to follow and these are as below;
A distance of just about 8m is very important between you and the chimps, People with diseases such as flue or diarrhea may not allowed in the park, Avoid eating near the chimps, Children below the age of 12 are prohibited from tracking, the 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 are not allowed in the park, no littering anything in the forest, One hour will be allowed with the chimpanzees.
Of course, the is Chimpanzee habituation experience where one is allowed to stay with the chimpanzees from 6:30am up to 6pm. This helps take a time to time observation of the chimpanzees’ daily behavior from morning to evening.
Just like in Kibale forest Forest national park, chimpanzee tracking in other chimpanzee reserves has the same rules and regulations, and the procedure is the same where by one requires a permit obtained from the park authorities.
The permits differ in prices from park to park and the number of chimps expected to be seen also differ as the number is not the same for all the chimpanzee reserves.