Dr. James Musinguzi the executive director for Uganda Wildlife Education Conservation Centre (UWEC) has revealed plans of setting up another Chimpanzee sanctuary which is estimated to cost Shs500m. According to Dr. Musinguzi, UWEC is running out of accommodation space for Chimpanzees which continue to be endangered due to human-wildlife conflict.
Two chimpanzees are reportedly rescued every year. The rescued Chimpanzees are said to be from areas of Kibale, Hoima, Kasese and Masindi. In order to step up its conservation efforts, UWEC launched a deliberate five-year Chimpanzee Conservation Action plan that will see an establishment of another chimpanzee sanctuary among other remedies.
While launching the action plan on Wednesday, the general public was sensitised about Chimpanzee behaviour and granted an opportunity to feed the Chimpanzees at UWEC. The action plan proposes a partnership approach with other conservation stakeholders such as the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), National Forestry Authority (NFA) among others.
Whereas UWEC has plans of establishing regional satellite zoos across the country, Dr. Musinguzi contends that such are long-term programmes, yet the centre is running out of space from where the rescued Chimps can be accommodated.
“Whereas such plans are underway, there is urgent need to create a Chimpanzee sanctuary in order to provide space for these primates at UWEC and those at Ngamba island,” stated Dr. Musinguzi who also doubles as the board chairperson for Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary.
Under the Chimpanzee conservation action plan are embedded mid-term and long-term goals which involve creating awareness within such communities with a big population of Chimps, so that people appreciate the value of primates and avenues through which people’s lives can directly be improved with proceeds from tourism.
Dr. Joshua Rukundo the executive director for Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) which manages Ngamba island, said, humans continue to exploit chimpanzees without offering due returns.
According to Dr. Rukundo, most of the medicines that are intended for humans, are first tested on chimps. “Therefore, when we conserve them, it will also help to understand human behaviour even more, through studies that will have been conducted on Chimps,” noted Dr. Rukundo.
During the function held on Wednesday, several organisations, entities and individuals fundraised for the wellbeing of Chimps at UWEC. Among these include the Jane Goodall institute which contributed US$1,000 (Sh3.7m) and Sudhir Ruparelia foundation that gave in US$1,700 (Sh6.2m) among other individuals.
In Uganda, the Chimpanzee population is estimated at 5000 in the wild, 22 at UWEC and 50 chimps at Ngamba island. Chimpanzees share 98.7% DNA with humans, making them the closest primates to people.
Additional reporting by Resty Nasaazi