For a week I had the great pleasure of visiting different national parks around Uganda, courtesy of the wonderful Pearl of Africa Tours, who organised my trip. The first destination was Kibale Forest, the natural home of a large population of chimpanzees. A few of the chimp families in the park have been habituated so that people can go and visit them. What this means is that the rangers in the park spend a bit of time with the family every day for a period of a few years, until the chimps become totally indifferent to the presence of humans. In contrast, wild populations of chimps can be aggressive and dangerous, and should not be approached.
We got lucky with the trekking, so we found the entire family very quickly, and they were happily posing for us, carrying their babies, and generally going about their daily business. I felt quite amused watching them – for example, there was a chimpanzee lazing around who looked pretty much like someone sitting on the street chilling out, and to see him surrounded with humans frantically taking photos was a little surreal. Trekking different chimps was exciting and a lot of fun though.
The same area also has a bunch of monkeys and many different species of birds. The baboons are absolutely everywhere, and thrive very happily in Uganda generally – it’s not uncommon to see them by the roadside. There were also different colobus monkey species – ‘colobus’ means “lacking something”, and the name refers to the fact that the monkeys in question only have 4 fingers, and lack opposable thumbs. The cute ones clustered in the trees above are black and white colobus monkeys – I found a lot of them staring at me intently as we drove around! On a swamp walk close to Kibale Forest, we also saw the more rare red colobus monkeys. It was early in the morning, but they had already gotten drunk on the fermented fruit available in a nearby tree! Their drunken jumping from tree to tree was very funny