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Save The Primates

Destination Jungle is joining the international awareness campaign on the importance to protect and save the primates. Many species are more and more endangered by the intense deforestation and pressure from human activities. Sustainable development means that the human presence should not affect the existence of the primates and, at the same time, the population can gain a lot from primate’s tourism.

Save the Chimpanzees

The attempt to save the primates was started and gained international attention especially with the progress of the research from the primatologists from the 60th.

The most successful and relevant project to protect the chimpanzees was the establishment of the Jane Goodall Foundation by Jane Goodall, who contributed to study the primates as well as opening up the first chimpanzee reserve in Tanzania, Gombe Stream. With time, Jane Goodall institute opened up projects in many countries, focusing its work on the sensitization of local communities over the conservation of the forest, against poaching activities and starting new tourist activities in order to generate new income from the forests. In Uganda the institute collaborated with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to habituate the groops of chimpanzees in Kibale forest and in Budongo Forest. Moreover, was created the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Santuary, an orphanage for the chimpanzees escaped from poaching and illegal trade.

Jane Goodall explains the trends in primate’s conservation: “When I began my research on the chimpanzees in the 1960s, the chimpanzees were over one million distributed among 21 countries. In the beginning of the 1980s there was a great change, first of all the demographic growth in the African countries and the construction of big roads passing through the forests, moreover the increasing illegal trade of wild animals. The population started to hunt not for basic consumption but for the revenues from selling meat of buffaloes, elephants, as well as gorillas and chimpanzees. The habitat of the forest was much under pressure and today we estimate there remain only 250.000 chimpanzees over 21 countries. How to protect the chimpanzees?

The people should be explained and be aware of the effects of destroying the natural habitats like the forests. They should develop means for improving the livelihood through a sustainable lifestyle and should receive support in this direction” (from video Interview by E. Manghi – A. Losacco, 2006).

Save the Gorillas

The situation is even more dramatic for the mountain gorillas, whose number is reduced to about 750 members found in only two forests in Africa, between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Excessive demographic pressure over the forests hosting the gorillas, extensive deforestation in fertile soils for increasing agricultural crops, the phenomenon of structural insecurity especially in the Virungas and trade related poaching are the greatest reasons for the almost disappearing of the mountain gorillas.

The gorillas in Bwindi forest as well as in Virunga forest especially during the 60th and the 70th were killed for their meat or for capturing the young ones to sell to zoos or as pets. Gorilla hands and skulls were sold as souvenirs. During the 1970s 40 per cent of the land of Volcanoes National Park was cleared for farming and for pyrethrum, destroying the habitat of the gorillas. At that time, it was a common perception that the forest, habitat of the gorillas, was useless and should have been converted to farming: “There is not one Rwandan who could value gorillas more than his own people; we need the land of the park for farming as the park gives us nothing, it is just a place for you foreigners to play with your gorillas” (the community leader of Mukingo in 1978, from “In the Kingdom of Gorillas”, 2001, B. Weber and A. Vedder).

The first studies about the mountain gorillas were carried out in the Virungas by George Schaller, who also made the first survey on their actual number in 1960, counting a maximum of 500 gorillas in the park.

Dian Fossey arrived in Rwanda in 1967. Her main work was research as well as organizing anti-poaching patros units in the park. Dian Fossey gave her life for the cause of the gorillas when was brutally killed on 27 December 1985.

The turning point in the history of gorilla conservation is 1978 in Rwanda. Digit the silverback of Group 4, one of the most habituated to researchers was killed by poachers and, few months later were killed Uncle Bert, Macho and 3 others members of the same family. In 1978 the gorilla survey counted only 252 individuals. The British Fauna and Flora Preservation Society decided to start The Mountain Gorilla Project, on the wave of the international condemnation over the killings of Rwandan gorillas. Dian Fossey herself in 1978 opened the Digit Fund with the specific objective to fight against poaching. The Mountain Gorilla Fund considered establishing cooperation with the ORTPN in order to halt poaching, start a sensitization program to change people’s attitude towards the park and the gorillas, moreover starting a controlled tourist program which could raise political support through the revenues from tourist activities. By then end of 1980s the number of gorillas slightly increased to 320 individuals and gorilla tourism became a key resource for Virunga.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is the renamed "Digit Fund" and it is still the most important fund for the protection of gorillas. It has the objective to help national parks that are home to gorillas in Rwanda and Congo through direct protection and training African staff. The fund has its own trackers and anti-poaching teams, who work closely with the Rwandan national park authorities to protect the Rwandan portion of the mountain gorilla’s habitat, in Volcanoes National Park. The activities include removing snares and collecting information on illegal practices, such as cattle grazing and firewood collection. The training for staff covers all aspects of the parks and their conservation, including general conservation issues, primate ecology and behavior and botany. Following poaching attacks in 2002, the Karisoke Research Center (which replaced the Old Karisoke Center) increased the amount of time the tracking teams are with the gorilla from half to full days.

We believe as Destination Jungle that if we have to concretely plan for the conservation of the mountain gorillas, the key policy would be to support their habitat and to expand the forests as well as limiting the human pressure over the gorillas’ sanctuaries.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Ngamba Island is located 23 km offshore from Entebbe. It is a forested island of 100 acres. In 1998 it became Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary under Jane Goodall Foundation with the objective to provide a safe haven for orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority from poachers or traders, with no chance of survival back to the wild.

It offers a unique opportunity for close viewing of chimpanzees in their natural environment. Pre-arranged supplementary feeding brings the chimpanzees close to the raised walkway specially designed for easy viewing.

The island is set up as an eco-friendly project with compost toilets, rainwater collection, proper waste management practices and solar energy for electricity and hot water. The eco-lodge gives opportunity for overnight in the island for visitors interested in taking activities in contact with the chimpanzees in the early morning.

The Sanctuary is a non-profit organization which is co-ordinate and managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Activities on the Island

  • Day trips are organized daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, leaving Entebbe by speed boat and reach the island in time for assisting the feeding of the chimpanzees.
  • The chimpanzee integration and caregiver experience is one of the most interesting activities visitors wish to have in East Africa. Early morning you enter the forest in a small group for a nature walk to meet the chimpanzees and having the opportunity to spend time holding them and observing their behavior as the staff does the regular check on them. This activity is only possible with an overnight in the eco-lodge. Moreover, it requires a list of vaccinations a previous acceptance by the island authorities. Therefore, Destination Jungle will give you all the details of the requirements and will prepare your trip.

Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream National Park is located in western Tanzania, 10 miles (20 km) north of Kigoma the regional capital of western Tanzania. Established in 1968, Gombe is the smallest national park in Tanzania, with only 52 sq km of forest running along the hills of the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika.

The terrain is characterized by steep valleys, and the forest vegetation ranges from grassland to alpine bamboo to tropical rainforest. Accessible only by boat, the park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research conducted on the chimpanzee populations. The Kasakela chimpanzee community is featured in several books and documentaries.

Gombe Stream’s high levels of diversity make it an increasingly popular tourist destination. Besides chimpanzees, primates inhabiting Gombe Stream include beachcomber olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys and vervet monkeys. The park is also home to many bird species and bush pigs. There are also 11 species of snakes, and occasional hippopotamus and leopards. Visitors to the park can trek into the forest to view the chimpanzees, as well as swim and snorkel in Lake Tanganyika with almost 100 kinds of colorful cichlid fish.

Gome Stream offers the opportunity to be in direct contact with the chimpanzees during the guided nature walks activities. Destination Jungle arranges trips to Gombe as an extension of our Eden Safari between Rwanda, Burundi and Congo, or as a package directly by plane from Arusha to Kigoma.