Chimpanzee tracking rules- Primate Safaris
Chimpanzee trekking is a popular activity in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and others where these primates are found. The activity involves hiking through the park rainforests in search of the endangered chimpanzees and in Uganda, the apes are mostly seen in Kibale forest national park and Kyambura Gorge of Queen Elizabeth, in Rwanda, they are found in Nyungwe forest national park and then in Tanzania, they are found in Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks. To ensure the safety and well-being of both the chimpanzees and visitors, there are specific rules and guidelines that must be followed during chimpanzee trekking. Here are some common rules:
- Follow the Guide: As you are hiking through the park rainforests in search if the chimpanzees, you are accompanied by the experienced park rangers. So, always listen to and follow their instructions since they are experienced and knowledgeable about the behavior of chimpanzees and the terrain.
- Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep a respectful distance from the chimpanzees. The recommended distance is typically around 7 meters (23 feet) or more. This helps reduce stress on the animals and minimizes the risk of disease transmission.
- No Flash Photography: Flash photography can disturb and stress the chimpanzees. It’s generally prohibited. Use natural lighting or low light photography techniques.
- No Feeding: Feeding the chimpanzees is strictly prohibited. Human food can be harmful to them and can also alter their natural behaviors.
- No Touching: Do not attempt to touch or make physical contact with the chimpanzees. This is for their safety as well as yours.
- No Littering: Ensure you do not leave any litter or waste behind. Dispose of it properly in designated areas.
- Silence Your Phones: Keep your phones on silent mode to avoid sudden noises that may startle the chimpanzees.
- Stay in the Designated Paths: Stick to the established trails or paths. Straying off can disturb the natural habitat and may also lead to dangerous situations.
- No Smoking: Smoking is often prohibited in protected natural areas to prevent forest fires and protect the wildlife.
- Respect the Environment: Treat the natural environment with respect. Do not pick plants, disturb wildlife, or damage the habitat in any way.
- Group Size: The number of visitors allowed in a tracking group may be limited to minimize the impact on the chimpanzees and their habitat.
- Time Limits: There may be time limits imposed on how long you can spend observing the chimpanzees to prevent over-stressing them.
- Dress Appropriately: Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the terrain and weather conditions. This might include long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy, comfortable shoes.
- Stay Hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated during the trek since you may need to walk long distances to the appointed group.
- Respect Local Customs and Traditions: Different national parks where tracking takes place are surrounded by different tribes. So, be mindful of their local customs and traditions. This includes being considerate of their homes and properties.
Note: Chimpanzee tracking is best carried out in the morning hours when the apes are leaving their nests to stay their lifestyles like searching for food and others.
These rules are in place to protect the chimpanzees and their habitat, and to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors. Always cooperate with the park rangers and guides to help conserve this unique and precious ecosystem.