On the Expedition
Explore human, chimpanzee and monkey interactions in the rainforests of Uganda while helping scientists develop a strategy for sharing shrinking food resources amongst primates and local farmers.
In the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda, fruit production by forest trees is mysteriously declining. The result: chimps and other primates are raiding local subsistence farms. Dr. Fred Babweteera of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, along with graduate students from Makerere University, Kampala, are studying primates’ foraging habits and fruit trees’ pollination and fruiting cycles with the goal of developing new approaches to sharing the resources – and they need your help.
About 700 chimpanzees live in the Budongo Forest Reserve, the largest remaining tropical rainforest in East Africa. In addition, there are four other diurnal primate species in Budongo Forest. You’ll team up with field assistants at the Budongo Conservation Field Station to observe chimps and other primates as they forage for food in the morning and late afternoon. You’ll also learn to identify local trees, and work alongside researchers to monitor trees, set insect traps, collect trapped insects, label and preserve the collected specimens for further identification. And you’ll help write up the data collected and relax at the research camp, enjoy sports with members of the Reserve staff, or walk the “Royal Mile” to take in the natural beauty of the rainforest.
Meals and Accommodations
Camp consists of several simple buildings erected on a large clearing in Budongo Forest. You’ll stay in a single room that contains a bed, beddings, mosquito net, reading desk and a chair. All rooms are connected to solar electricity. There are three pit latrines on site which are shared by all. You’ll have access to a warm shower, every evening after a long day’s work. Water used at camp is harvested off the roofs or taken from the Sonso River so frugal use is necessary.
Evening meals are prepared by cooks who will prepare dishes including rice, chapati, potatoes, spaghetti, beans, beef, fish, ground nuts (peanuts), cow peas, assorted fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs. There are other local foods such as cassava, stewed bananas (locally known as matooke) and maize bread (locally known as ugali or posho). Breakfast will be western style.
About the Research Area
The Budongo Conservation Field Station is located inside the Budongo Tropical Rainforest, about 4.5 hours from the Entebbe Airport. The land is flat and the climate is tropical and calm, with an average temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius). People in the field station and neighboring Masindi Town are welcoming, and accustomed to interactions with foreign and local visitors. At the nearby Kinyara Sugar Works Ltd (20 minutes drive), visitors are welcome to use the swimming pool and relax at the pool bar on their recreational day.
Budongo Forest is ranked among the Top Five tourist destination in Uganda—for good reason. It is a “hot spot” for species diversity. The forest contains the 'Royal Mile' named for its popularity as a traditional leisure stop-over for Uganda's royalty. The Royal Mile is a superb birding spot with many west and central African species. Today, the spectacular forest is home to the largest chimpanzee population in Uganda. While primates and smaller mammals are abundant, there are no big cats or larger mammals in the forest.