(Chimpanzee Trust/Ngamba Island)
In 2019, Natasha conceived following a hiatus from implants and gave birth to a healthy female baby on the 4th of September. As a new mother, Natasha has been isolated indoors to allow her to bond with her baby. Now with the baby at 4 months, her ‘maternity leave’ is over and she and her baby have to join the group.
Just like humans, chimpanzees need time to accept new entrants in their group which calls for carefully controlled re-introduction. In the wild, the females isolate themselves, before joining female nursing groups and eventually the full group. At Ngamba, we try to recreate this in a controlled environment for the protection of the baby and mother.
On the 4th of January 2020, Natasha’s integration began with a few females, with whom she needed to build trust. Then, every couple of days, new individuals are added to this nucleus group till all the 29 females of Ngamba Island, were fully integrated with the baby. This process has helped create a bond with the other females that shall help her raise the young one. They can pick up the baby, help in her ‘training’ and offer protection from aggressors. A few of the males have also been ‘tested’ and Umutama, the alpha male (but not for long apparently), has accepted the baby, so all looks to be great for the future of the baby, yet to be named.
At some point, after every chimp has been introduced to the baby, Natasha will feel more confident to join the group in the main forest enclosure.
This process is closely monitored by and advised by the experienced chimpanzee caregivers of Ngamba Island.
Also at Ngamba Island:
Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in the Albertine Rift – Training of Farmers
Human-Wildlife Conflict is one of the biggest problems faced by farmers living within the chimpanzee corridors in the Albertine Rift corridors of Western Uganda. The Chimpanzee Trust is implementing a project to mitigate the effects of this conflict, brought on by man’s destruction of wildlife habitat.
The project, funded by the UK Aid’s Darwin Initiatives program, is working with 32 villages surrounding the vulnerable Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, home to over 650 chimpanzees and a host other indigenous flora and fauna. The project shall empower the communities in this area, to set up agro-enterprises resilient to the effects of wildlife, and build reserves, in organized community-based farmer groups, to sell their produce collectively, add value and cover loses that may be occasioned by wildlife.
As part of the activities of the project, 256 village farmer groups have been formed and 384 leaders from these groups have been trained in the establishment and management of Village Saving Groups (VSGs) under the project. The VSGs play a critical role in bringing financial services to rural communities. This training was conducted by the local Community Development Officer, a Government employee responsible for helping community form and sustain community development projects etc.
Community leaders learned skills of; group formation, group dynamics, sustainability, the making of a constitution and the registration with the Local Government. VSGs help build community networks that discuss their problems and devise their own solutions. The groups meet weekly and contribute shares to the saving groups.