Chimpanzee Research in Royal Mile – Budongo forest Murchison falls National Park
Chimpanzee research Royal mile in Budongo forest has a community of chimpanzee specifically for research, this project was Implemented in 2008, this long-term collaboration between Roman Wittig, Catherine Crockford and Klaus Zuberbühler, investigates the evolution of sociality and social cognition in wild chimpanzees of the Sonso community using observations, field experiments and non-invasive hormonal measures.
The chimpanzees (P. t. schweinfurthii) of the Sonso community have been observed continuously since 1990, when Vernon Reynolds founded the Budongo Forest Project (BFP) to study and protect a population of about 800 chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest Reserve in north-western Uganda. In 2005 BFP was transformed into an Ugandan NGO: Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS). Since then the chimpanzee research is headed by Klaus Zuberbühler from the Universities of St Andrews (UK) and Neuchatel (CH).
In the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda, fruit production by forest trees is mysteriously declining. As a result, chimps and other primates are raiding local subsistence farms. Dr. Fred Babweteera of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, along with graduate students from Makerere University, Kampala, is studying the foraging habits of primates and the pollination and fruiting cycles of fruit trees with the goal of developing new approaches to sharing resources between people and primates—and they need your help.
Chimpanzee research in royal mile – On this expedition you’ll have a unique opportunity to meet our closest relatives in their natural habitat. About 700 chimpanzees live in the Budongo Forest Reserve, the largest remaining tropical rainforest in East Africa. In addition, there are four other major primate species in the Budongo Forest. You’ll team up with field assistants at the Budongo Conservation Field Station to observe chimps and other primates as they forage for food in the morning and late afternoon. You’ll learn to identify local trees and work alongside researchers to monitor trees, set and empty insect traps, and label and preserve the collected insects for later identification. You’ll help write up the data and relax at the research camp, enjoy sports with members of the Reserve staff, or walk the “Royal Mile” to take in the natural beauty of the rainforest.
Budongo Forest chimpanzee tracking – is situated approximately 3 hours’ drive northwest of the capital city Kampala on the way to the prominent Murchison Falls National Park. This is the biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa as well as habitat to the largest number of chimpanzees throughout Uganda. The major tourist sites within this forest are: the Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site, Busingiro Ecotourism site and Kaniyo Pabidi Ecotourism site which are located at boundaries to Murchison Falls National Park and dominated by Mahogany and Iron-wood trees.
The 115 kilometer expanse is a remote chunk of the Budongo forest. Its isolation once in a while offers a safe haven for the Lions, Leopards as well as Buffaloes. Early in the morning is the ideal time to set out touring because then you will have an opportunity to find a number of the forest inhabitants licking salt by the forest glades? River Waiga offers refreshment to the various wildlife species within this forest.
Budongo forest chimpanzee tracking usually starts with briefing from the information Centre at the Budongo Eco Lodge. The forest has well established trails to allow visitors spot the chimps as well as other smaller primates and birds. Chimpanzee trekking is done in two shifts –morning and afternoon. The Chimp communities roam very close to the Budongo Eco lodge on most days of the year. However, during certain periods of the year, they wander way in search of fruits and water. During these periods of food scarcity, finding them is not always guaranteed. The success rate of seeing chimps is still very high, only bettered by Kibale forest national park. For the best possible chance of spotting the chimps, visit during the months between October and January. Chimpanzee trekking in Budongo lasts for an average of 3 hours. After locating the chimp community, visitors are only allowed one hour with them.
In order to participate in the chimpanzee trekking exercise, one needs to be in good health and free from diseases like flue or Tuberculosis. Chimps easily contract human diseases. One also needs to be at least 15 years of age to track chimpanzees. The cost of chimpanzee trekking in Budongo is $80. Chimpanzee tracking can be combine with game drives in the park.
Budongo forest is one of the best places for bird watching in Uganda. With the help of experienced Guides, birders can choose to go for a full or half day of bird watching. The Royal Mile found within the Busingiro area is arguably the best place to go if you want to see most of the species in a day. The Royal mile extends from the main research station up to a forestry college nearby. The rare species to look out for are the Pitta, Yellow-footed Flycatcher,
Best time to visit Murchison falls National Park
Budongo forest reserve is part of the Murchison Falls National Park and offers opportunities to do activities like visiting the top of the falls, going for game drives, boat cruises and a cultural visit to the Boomu Women’s Group to see how life goes by in a rural African village. By the end of your tour of Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest and the nearby Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, you would have spotted all the big 5 mammals. Read more about water fall boat safari in Murchison falls
How to get to Budongo forest?
Budongo forest is found in North-western Uganda. It takes 3 hours to reach the reserve from Kampala. From Kampala, one needs to first drive to Masindi town before heading to the forest reserve. Entrance to Budongo Forest reserve costs $40 per person.
Budongo Eco Lodge:
Budongo Eco Lodge is a budget lodge built within the Budongo forest reserve. The lodge is 30 km away from the town of Masindi and offers a perfect atmosphere for relaxation and in a tranquil environment. Budongo Eco lodge offers comfortable special cabins with balconies and also dormitory rooms. The dorm rooms are spacious and designed to be used by large groups of tourists. The lodge has a restaurant where residents can order for both local and international foods. While at the lodge you can participate in activities like chimpanzee trekking, bird watching, chimpanzee habituation experience and nature walks. Those who are interested in local souvenir can go to the Visitor Centre and purchase locally made art pieces and gifts.