Month: December 2016

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Primate tracking both in Nyungwe & Kibale National park

A primate is a mammal of the order Primates, any member of the group of animals that includes human beings, apes and monkeys and a few related forms. In taxonomy, primates include two distinct lineages, strepsirrhines and haplorhines. The order Primates was traditionally divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Prosimians have characteristics more like those of the earliest primates, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisoids, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys, apes and hominins. More recently, taxonomists have preferred to split primates into the suborder Strepsirrhines, or wet-nosed primates, consisting of non-tarsier prosimians, and the suborder Haplorhines, or dry-nosed primates, consisting of tarsiers and the simians.

Primates are characterized by large brains relative to other mammals, as well as an increased reliance on stereoscopic vision at the expense of smell, the dominant sensory system in most mammals. These features are more developed in monkeys and apes and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs. Three-color vision has developed in some primates. Most also have opposable thumbs and some have prehensile tails. Book Primate Safari in Rwanda to visit the various primates mentioned in the article below.

Under primates we;

  • Chimpanzees
  • Golden monkeys
  • Black and White colobus monkeys

Chimpanzee and Primate tracking in Nyungwe national park

Nyungwe forest is situated in south-west Rwanda between Lake Kivu and the international border with Burundi. Nyungwe forest national park is Rwanda’s Leading chimpanzee tracking safari destination for primates and birding tours in Rwanda. Nyungwe forest Rwanda is the source of Africa’s great rivers. Rain that falls on the east side feeds the Nile and on the west runs to the Congo. The Congo-Nile Divide is a mountain range that runs north to south through Rwanda.

Beyond gorillas that made Rwanda famous, wildlife all over will be thrilled to know that they can track three more species of primate on their Rwandan holiday: Chimpanzees, Black-and-white colobus monkeys, and the endangered Golden monkey.

Chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest

Chimpanzees are the closest living evolutionary relatives to humans, sharing a common ancestor with humans. They share 99% DNA with human beings. These chimps can be tracked in Nyungwe and Kibale National Park. Chimpanzees live in a leaner hierarchy in which more than one individual may be dominant enough to dominate other members of lower rank. Typically, a dominant male is referred to as the alpha male. Male grow up to 1.7 m high when standing, and weigh as much as 70 kg; the female is somewhat smaller.

Chimpanzees make tools and use them to acquire foods and for social displays; they have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation, influence and rank; they are status conscious, manipulative and capable of deception; they can learn to use symbols and understand aspects of human language including some relational syntax, concepts of number and numerical sequence; and they are capable of spontaneous planning for a future state or event. Chimps communicate in a manner similar to human nonverbal communication, using vocalizations, hand gestures, and facial expressions.

Chimpanzee tracking can be done all year-round in Nyungwe Forest, rain or shine, and while it is never guaranteed that you will see them, sightings are very common and guides are skillful in tracking them. The experience differs from gorilla tracking as the chimps are running around, so the sightings are a bit more sporadic and rushed, but worthwhile nonetheless.

Chimpanzee groups live high in the canopy of Nyungwe National Park, and catching your first glimpse of one crashing through the forest after hiking into their territory is nothing short of astonishing. During the rainy season, a troop of chimpanzees often moves into Uwinka and the colored trail as well, and it is up to the tourist to decide whether to pay extra to track them. You may be able to hear chimpanzees before you see them; from somewhere deep in the forest, an excited hooting, just one voice at first, then several, rising in volume before stopping abruptly or fading away.

Golden monkeys in Nyungwe forest

These striking golden monkeys are a treat for the eyes. With their bright orange fur contrasting the green rainforests of the Virunga Mountains, it’s a photographers dream, Visitors meet with their guides at Volcanoes National Park’s Kinigi Headquarters and the visit is done once per day, time will be allocated once booked.

The thirteen primate species which are found in Nyungwe represent something like 20-25% of the total number in Africa, an extraordinary figure which in East Africa is comparable only to Uganda’s Kibale forest. Furthermore, several of these primates are listed as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN red list, and Nyungwe is almost certainly the main stronghold for at least two of them. The most celebrated of Nyungwe primates is the Rwenzori Colobus a race of the more wide spread Angola colobus which is restricted to the Albertine Rift.

Black and White Colobus monkeys

They are closely related to the brown colobus monkeys of genus Piliocolobus. The word “colobus” comes from Greek and is so named because in this genus, the thumb is a stump. Colobuses are herbivorous, eating leaves, fruit, flowers, and twigs. Their habitats include primary and secondary forests, riverine forests, and wooded grasslands; they are found more in higher-density logged forests than in other primary forests.

These charismatic monkeys sometimes referred to as Ruwenzori Colobus – take up the final place in Rwanda’s Big-4 primate species. Nyungwe Forest is again home to this attractive species. Because they live within sizeable groups (one of the habituated troops has more than 200 individuals), an encounter with Colobus Monkeys in Rwanda often exceeds sightings anywhere elsewhere in Africa.

Chimpanzee and primate tracking in Kibale national park

Kibale National Park is a national park in southern Uganda protecting moist evergreen rain forest. It is 766 square kilometers (296 sq. mi) in size and is located between 1,100–1,600 meters (3,600–5,200 ft) in elevation. Kibale is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests. In eastern Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest

The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee. It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.

In Kibale national park, there is what we call chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation experience.

Uganda is probably one of the best places in the world to see habituated wild chimpanzees. Most people do not realize that they have a choice between chimpanzee tracking and a Chimpanzee habituation experience. People come to Uganda for the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzee tracking. There are 4950 chimpanzees within Uganda; Kibale Forest alone has the most with almost 1500 Chimpanzees. Most visitors visit the chimpanzees much like the Mountain Gorillas for one hour there is however another option that allows you to be with chimpanzees all day long in the forests of Budongo or Kibale Forest it is the habituation experience all day with chimpanzees in their natural setting.

Chimpanzee tracking experience

Chimpanzee tracking is where by a trekker goes to the forest to view the already habituated chimpanzees. The habituated chimpanzees are normally confined in one area and are not aggressive and stubborn. They are friendly. Chimpanzee tracking can take 1-3 hours. When your guide comes to a standstill, you might sometimes think that you are lost. Don’t worry your guide is an expert you can rely on him as he tries to locate the chimps. By 11 a.m. the chimps take finally a rest and this is the best time to approach and observe them closely. It’s only at that moment that you realize that they have been habituated. They tolerate you when taking a rest and continue their daily duties. When you are lucky you see them on the ground. With the appropriate photo equipment you can take some good pictures. Sometimes they are high in the trees and you will need your binoculars to observe them well. You will stay about one hour with them.

Chimpanzee habituation experience

CHEX is a process that is used to make these largely wild apes approachable by human beings without causing any harm. This experience entails getting the chimpanzees used to the presence of humans (to remove the fear of humans from the group), a process that takes up to two years and today you are part of that process by your all day presence in the forest.  With Chimpanzee Habituation Experience it means an early breakfast, a packed lunch and you are off before dawn breaks into the forest. You meet your guide and you are off to where the chimpanzees built nests the night before. Dawn is just breaking and the chimpanzee community you are going to be with the rest of the day is rising from their sleep. It’s a unique, all-day trek and there’s no telling where the chimpanzees will lead you. Their movements are unpredictable whether it’s uphill, downhill or on even ground, you follow the agile group, sometimes at challenging speeds through dense vegetation, for rare, up-close encounters.

Primate walk in Kibale forest

This walk starts from Kanyanchu River Camp at 8:00 am or 3:00pm. It lasts for 2-4 hours and it is the most popular walk, highlighting the diversity of different animals and plant species within the forest. This walk is restricted to four groups of four persons each, in the morning and the same number in the afternoon.

Other primates in Bigodi wetland sanctuary

This is a small sanctuary which protects the magombe swamp, adjacent to Bigodi trading centre and immediately outside the park boundary. The sanctuary is known for a wide range of biodiversity including species of primates such as red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkey, grey-checked mangabey, red tailed monkey, L’Hoest monkey, vervet monkey, blue monkey and baboon. Mammals like sitatunga, bush pigs, bush bucks, otters, mongoose and Chimpanzees. 138 bird species have so far been identified; one of the main bird species found in the sanctuary is the great bleu turacco.