Ngamba Chimpanzee Island turns 20 this June
She is the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees with 55-years’ experience in the study of their social and family interactions. Dr. Jane Goodall is her name and guess what!! She is visiting Uganda in June to grace the 20th anniversary of Ngamba Island.
Caption for above picture: Volunteer and staff during integration of the baby chimps in Ngamba forest 1998.
Fast forward, Ngamba is a sensational island in Lake Victoria that is endowed with a secondary forest. It is an inviting fully fledged travel destination that is home to over 48 chimpanzees. They were orphaned from different parts of tropical Africa.
The Island is spread of 100 acres of land, 95 acres of which is forested and separated from the human camp by an electric fence. Ngamba boasts of ultra-modern infrastructure that qualify it as a three star sanctuary. In short, if you visited Ngamba today, you are bound to think it is a project that didn't long to attain its breakthrough. However, don't be deceived. It has gone against odds to get to where it is today.
Though over 90% of Ngamba is made of a natural tropical forest, it has limited species of vegetation that are edible to chimpanzees. It can comfortably accommodate 2 chimpanzees, yet it is home of 49 of them. As such, food has to be outsourced every day for the survival of its occupants.
Outsourced in this context means it has to be purchased at market price. This has prompted the island to venture into tourism, through charging its visitors entry fees. On a low note though, the tourism traffic that the Island is currently realizing can't fuel its long term sustainability.
Despite such difficulties though, its resident chimps are always healthy and full of life, a sign that its staff always commit an extra effort to their welfare.
According to Lilly Ajarova, Executive Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the organization that founded and manages Ngamba, the above is one of the things that makes its 20th anniversary worth a triumphant celebration.
Caption for above picture: 2nd Executive Director for Ngamba M/s Monty and Dr. Jane Goodall
Back to the subject, through her organization, Jane Goodall Institute, Jane Goodall, 83, has over the years played a pivotal role in the establishment and funding of organizations striving to conserve Chimpanzees from extinction. One such is Ngamba.
During her visit to Uganda in early 2014, Goodall Ranked Ngamba as the best chimpanzee sanctuary out of the 29 there is in Africa.
She said her ranking was based on the kind of attention and care accorded to the primates by the caregivers.
“They have fully acknowledged the fact that chimpanzees are man’s closest relatives and treat them with so much love and attention. I am overwhelmed,” she delighted
What Ngamba's survival means to Uganda
Ngamba's survival is crucial to Uganda. It provides high quality educational experience it provides visitors and importantly, to benefit local communities. It also plays a pivotal role in promoting the conservation of chimpanzees at a time their natural habitats are being deforested. This follows the population outburst that is forcing locals to search for land for settlement and farming.
Thanks to its location on a plateau situated along the tropics, Uganda is the only country in the world with as many as 13 species of primates. Among these primates, Chimpanzees attract the most number of tourists, after Gorilla's the biggest primates in Africa.
Story by Solomon Oleny
Caption for above picture: Official opening of sanctuary by 1st lady in October 1999 and Hon. Emphraim Kamuntu- 1st board chairman and First Lady of Uganda Janet Museveni
Caption for above picture: Arrival of chimps at Ngamba island in 1998 using Koome ferry
Caption for above picture: 1st holding facility (Place where chimps sleep) in 1998
Caption for above picture: Fence separation (forest and recreation area) 1999
Caption for above picture: Nani, one of the oprhaned chimpanzees in Ngamba painting, just like man.