Chimpanzees are without doubt the key attractions in Kibale National Park. Over 1500 of about 5050 chimpanzees in Uganda all live in the lush tropical forest of Kibale National Park- KNP. This makes it not only a home to highest chimpanzee population in the Pearl of Africa, but also an ideal chimpanzee trekking spot in East Africa.
Amazingly, chimpanzee trekking presents a great opportunity to all nature lovers on Uganda safaris to enjoy a close encounter with chimpanzees right in the wild. This is a distinct experience unlike while you are at the zoo. Chimpanzees are unique primates on earth and they share over 98.7% of their DNA with humans and an encounter with them for 1 hour allows you make comparisons between humans and these apes.
Chimpanzees live in communities of up to 100 individuals and in average, 18 chimpanzees per chimp community. Kibale National Park protects mainly the Eastern chimpanzees and while on Uganda safaris, it is one spot to consider visiting especially while on Mgahinga gorilla safari or gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Quick Info About Chimpanzees
Chimpanzees are our closest relatives among other primates. They differ from human by only 1.3 % of their DNA make up. They leave in a variety of environments in Central and Western Africa; they can live in tropical rain forests, swamp forests, woodlands, grassland. They are very intelligent animals as compared to other species of animals. They have senses which are much related to human like hearing, test, smell, touch and sight. They have very long arms which are even longer than their legs, and a male chimpanzee is bigger weighs about 70 kg (150 lb) and taller than the female.
Chimpanzee majorly feed on leaves, seeds, fruits, flowers, plant bulbs. They also eat termites, ants, and also small animals and they also drink water. Chimpanzee are also regarded as social animals, they live in small groups of about 40-60 individuals and their life span is about 35-40 years. Like gorillas Chimpanzees also face serious threats, including habitat destruction from commercial logging, slash-and-burn agricultural practices and various mining activities. They also face illegal poaching of animals for bush meat
Chimpanzee in Uganda are seen in Kibale forest National Park which is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in the district of Kamwenge about 4-5 hours from the capital city Kampala,this park only is a home over 13 species of primates like black and white colobus monkey,civet monkey, baboons, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Gentle ( Blue) and Red-tailed Monkeys just to mention but a few. Chimps can also be seen in Queen Elizabeth National Park (Kyambura gorge), Ngamba Island a chimpanzee refuge in Lake Victoria that cares for orphanage chimps and also in Budongo forest Reserve near Murchison Falls National Park with a community of more than 600 chimps. Uganda is expected to have about 5,000 chimpanzees divided over about twelve forest blocks.
Chimpanzees are social primates, intelligent and they follow hierarchies. An alpha male is usually the leader in chimp community. He is the one that is responsible protecting the rest of the chimpanzees- females, infants, etc. Chimpanzees have unique communication traits; they have unique body language expression. They bark, pant and hoot as a way to communicate to each other and emotionally, facial expressions are used.
Chimpanzees are also capable of using tools to dig out insects, harvest fruits, open nuts, etc. They make new nests daily for overnight sleep and their diet is largely comprised of fruits, leaves, shoots. In captivity, chimpanzees can live up to 60 years and they weigh about 70kgs.
Chimpanzees are vulnerable to predators such as leopards and human infectious diseases. They are victims to snares, plus other traps often set up to catch small animal species especially antelopes.
Best time to visit chimpanzees of Kibale
Kibale National Park is open to visitors on chimpanzee safari at any time of the year. It is one destination that enjoys favorable weather conditions all year-round but chimpanzee trekking is best done during the dry season. This is either during the extended dry season or short dry season. The extended or long dry season runs from June to September and short drier months include December, January & February.
- Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale is available for all visitors above 12 years.
- Strictly 6 people trek a single chimpanzee community.
- Each group of 6 (six) tourists is led by an experienced Kibale National Park guide.
- Use of flashlight camera isn’t accepted when taking pictures.
- Ill or sick tourists aren’t allowed to visit chimpanzees of Kibale.
- Eating, drinking or smoking before chimps isn’t allowed.