Mention Kibale’s name, and faces of tourists who have been here will glow; they will break out into smiles beaming with emotion; the type many get when lost in thoughts about their dream cars, mansions, spouses….
Located in Fort Portal district in the western Uganda, Kibale harbours a wonderful park with crystal clean rivers, heaven-hugging trees, lovely flowers, rolling hills, gorgeous crater lakes and endless soothing birdsongs. It has a healthy population of forest herbivores like elephants and buffaloes. This makes it a perfect destination for nature photographers and animal lovers alike. There are plenty of bird species too to see at this destination which neighbours call the love capital of Uganda. However, its biggest charm is the rich concentration of over 13 species of primates; a uniqueness that qualifies it at as the primate capital of the peal of Africa. Topping the list of primates to see here is the chimpanzee , man’s closest relative.
Chimpanzee trekking in the park’s moist forest is like a primate education trip. If you ever wonder if you are looking at an ape or a monkey for example, look for a tail. While all the monkey species in the forest like red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and black and white monkeys have tails, apes do not have tails. Also, while monkeys and bush babies use hand gestures and verbal signs for communication, chimpanzees communicate with each other through a more complex system of vocalizations and facial expressions. If excited or desperate, they use loud calls called pant-hoots, or they drum aloud the buttresses of telephone trees.
Stand warned however, that primates are extremely aggressive when provoked or when they feel that they or their families are in danger. In the event that they flick their wrists or start grunting or screaming at you, keep a distance before hell breaks loose.
Things to Do
Hiking /nature walks
Chimp tracking starts as early as 6am, so it is advisable to choose accommodation facilities around the park due to their proximity to the starting point of the activity.
Over 500 bee hives were deployed at elephant crossing points along the park boundary between August 2013 to end of 2015. The project, which cost roughly $3,000, was funded by well-wishers of the park, especially organizations at the forefront of conservation like Cleveland Metroparks, Sacramento zoo and National Geographic.
Since the implementation of this project, there has been considerable decline in elephant crop raiding along the 4.8km stretches rounded by the hives. Preliminary findings indicate that while there were 44 raiding incidences observed in 2012 and 12 in 2013, there were only three incidences last year.
Even better, the project hasn’t only been beneficial to the communities. It has deterred instances in which the community’s domestic animals would encroach into the park for grazing, keeping the park wildlife as undisturbed as can be. This has also played a pivotal role in tackling the spread of communicable diseases from wild animals to domestic animals to humans and vice versa.