Uganda’s Chimpanzees offer untapped tourism potential

Uganda’s Chimpanzees offer untapped tourism potential

Renowned primatologist and anthropologist, Dr Jane Goodall, believes that chimpanzees provide Uganda the opportunity to unlock tourism fortunes in a way not imagined before, adding that chimpanzee tourism could earn the country as much in tourism revenue as gorilla trekking.

The last study done in Uganda (2002) revealed that there were 5 000 chimpanzees in the country, and successful, sensitive chimpanzee tourism “begins with preserving the wild chimpanzees’ environment”, says Goodall.

Dr Peter Apell, Programmes Director of the Jane Goodall Institute in Lubowa, Wakiso District, concurs, saying that the major threat to the survival of the chimpanzees in the country is the encroachment of the primate natural habitat. “This is by way of destroying the forest which is the natural environment of the chimpanzees. The biggest challenge is the destruction of the environment. Once the chimpanzees’ natural habitat is destroyed as a result of human activities, they end up in the communities. And here they either injure or get injured.”

Apell says, however, that there are ways the communities can both survive without crossing each other’s path. “First we must realise they are part of our heritage and we have a collective duty as a community to protect them. And this is part of the message we are trying to inculcate.”

Goodall has urged the communities in Uganda, and Africa as whole, to develop nature-friendly tourism programmes, saying it is the only sustainable measure that will make it easy to tap into the lucrative wildlife resource. “I’m determined my great grandchildren will be able to go to Africa and find wild great apes,” she was quoted in a press statement issued by the Jane Goodall Institute.

The Institute exists to reverse the decline in the population of great apes, and to preserve their habitats. “Grounded in the legacy of Dr Jane Goodall’s 46 years of chimpanzee research and advocacy, JGI is committed to addressing the complex issues that threaten chimpanzees in the wild, while also meeting the needs of the surrounding communities and affected stakeholders,” the press statement read.

It continues: “Our primary interest is the conservation of the endangered chimpanzee as well as the welfare of those recovered from captivity. We work with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, Wildlife Clubs of Uganda, National Forestry Authority, Ministry of Education and Sports and many others in our efforts to protect and conserve the diminishing chimpanzee populations of Uganda.”

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