Investigating Threats to Chimps in Uganda
Earthwatch requires all participants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
As food supplies in the forest decline, chimps in the Budongo Forest are raiding farmers’ crops. What is causing the decline in food? How can the area support both farmers and primate foragers?
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 fruiting cycles of fruit trees with the goal of developing new approaches to sharing resources between people and primates—and they need your help.
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, as well as assess the phenology (timing) of their flowering and fruiting. You’ll also help assess how changes in food availability affects local bird populations by setting up mist nets and assisting in banding forest birds. Back at the research camp, you’ll help write up the data, relax, enjoy sports with members of the Reserve staff, or walk the “Royal Mile” to take in the natural beauty of the rainforest.
A Typical Itinerary
- Day 1 Rendezvous in Entebbe, drive to Budongo Conservation Field Station
- Day 2 Safety briefing and training, transect work
- Days 3-6 Follow primates, survey plants, assist with bird surveys and banding, interview locals
- Days 7-8 Recreational days
- Days 9-10 Track primates, plant surveys, assist with bird surveys and banding, interview locals
- Day 11 Finish fieldwork, debrief
- Day 12 Return to Entebbe, departure
Team departs (volunteers on second week arrive, itinerary repeats)
HOW YOU WILL HELP
Follow foraging primates
Track primates (chimpanzees, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and/or colobus monkeys) as they look for food. You'll record where they go and what fruits they eat.
Hike to record vegetation
Help scientists understand why many tree species are no longer bearing fruit by recording which trees have fruit and monitoring the rainfall and temperature throughout the forest. You'll also assess how the decline in fruit is affecting bird populations by setting up mist nets and assisting in banding forest birds.
Interview community members
Speak with people who live near the reserve to find out when and how often primates raid their crops, so that researchers can correlate raids with the timing of fruit growth in the forest.
Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
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