The Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) Dr James Musinguzi has said human wildlife conflict as a result of human encroachment on wild animal habitats has led to an increase in the numbers of chimpanzees being endangered by human conflict.
“We are continuously seeing the rescue of Chimpanzees on the increase, averagely we rescue two chimps every year from the hotspot districts like Hoima, Kibale kasese and Masindi. The more we sit and continue receiving the chimpanzees, it becomes a challenge so we must now tackle the area where chimpanzees are coming from to reduce on the numbers being rescued from attacks” he said.
Mr Musinguzi made the remarks while launching a five year Chimpanzee Connect program aimed at addressing human wildlife conflict in societies neighboring chimpanzee habits in Entebbe on Tuesday.
“The program will help us look after the chimpanzees here adequately but also go and carry out intervention in the wild to have a connection with the people, create awareness and improve the livelihoods of the communities that the chimpanzees come from in order to reduce on the numbers that are going to chimpanzee sanctuaries” he said.
Mr Musinguzi said there is need to construct more chimpanzee sanctuaries to cater for the increasing number of chimpanzees rescued from human attacks as the current two sanctuaries have exceeded their capacity.
“At UWEC we have 22 chimpanzees, we have hit the current capacity of the area here, Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary has 50 chimpanzees which is over its capacity implying if more chimpanzees are rescued as a result of human wildlife conflict, we have no place to take them” he said.
The Manager of Education and Information Department at UWEC Mr David Musingo said the increased destruction of the forest cover where the chimps reside has led to an increase in human wildlife conflicts
“We are losing 70percent of our forest cover especially in western Uganda like the Bunyoro region where chimps reside. We need to replicate the conservation education programs carried out at UWEC and Ngamba sanctuary on primates in our societies so that chimpanzees can be protected by the people instead of harming them” he said.
The executive director Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust Mr Joshua Rukundo said there is need to protect chimpanzees which are now classified as endangered due to human wildlife conflict and illegal wild life trade in the species.