The Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Conservation Trust , also known as the Chimpanzee Trust has started raising awareness about protecting natural habitats as one of the ways to advocate for chimpanzees.
World Chimpanzee day is a celebration of chimpanzee and an opportunity to raise awareness about the needs of the worldwide participation in their care, protection, and conservation in the wild and captivity and is held every July,14.
According to Dr. Joshua Rukundo, the Chimp Trust Executive Director, as part of this year’s celebrations, they will continue raising awareness about threats the chimps face in the wild including habitat loss, diseases, wildlife trafficking and promote their proper care in captive situations.
“As chimpanzees are continuously threatened by the habitat loss, disease, wildlife trafficking, and illegal hunting, the World Chimpanzee Day provides the ideal opportunity for the Chimpanzee Trust to focus its commitment to reduce conflicts between chimpanzees and humans as part of its mission to sustainably conserve chimpanzees in their natural habitat and provide optimum captive care to those that cannot survive in the wild,”Rukundo says.
He adds that in commemoration of the day, Chimp Trust will showcase its achievements in conserving chimpanzee habitats to mitigate human-wildlife conflict along the Albertine rift.
“Due to the current restrictions on travel and gatherings, we shall showcase our achievements virtually,” he noted.
Livelihood for communities
According to the Chimp Trust Executive Director, the NGO is in its third year of implementing the “Community Adaptability to loss occasioned by Wildlife” project aimed at equipping the communities most affected by human-wildlife conflict with skills and tools to develop their own solutions to the mitigation of such conflict to the benefit of both species.
The project has been funded by UK’s Darwin Initiatives program.
“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,” Rukundo says.
He explains that VSGs play a critical role in bringing financial services to rural communities.
“Community leaders learn 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 solutions. The groups meet weekly and contribute shares to the saving groups.”
Dr.Joshua Rukundo explains that other than habitat restoration in Hoima district, Chimpanzee Trust through its education program has embraced the production of radio drama as an efficient and effective means of awareness to the public.
“Radio drama increases the awareness of the public and specifically the communities living close to wildlife, on the importance of the wildlife and the environment in which they live. Over the last 3-4 years, we have worked with students from the local secondary schools to record two seasons of a now popular radio drama “Ekijja Omanyire”, which translates to “Forewarned, forearmed,” Rukundo says.
He explains the drama episodes depict lives of the communities that live next to forest habitats, rivers, and woodlands, where they come across wildlife and especially chimpanzees.
“It looks to teach listeners how to ‘behave’ in such environments to conserve it so they can reap the benefits for generations to come.”
“Additionally, new conservation education materials like the children’s reading book with stories on adaptation, avoidance, and mitigation of human-wildlife conflicts have been distributed to students aged 7 to 13 years,”Rukundo notes.