Chimps & Gorilla Habituation

Chimps and Gorilla Habituation Comparison: Uganda

Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation is an activity carried out to make the mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees get familiar and used to human beings for the trekking experience. Gorilla and Chimpanzee habituation is conducted by researchers, trackers and rangers for a period of 2-3 years, during this time the researchers keep visiting the primates on a daily basis and get to learn more about individual primates and their behaviour. In the long run, the gorillas and chimpanzees get used to these researchers and each primate is given a name.

Once the researchers are sure that the gorillas and chimpanzees are used to human beings and are ready for trekking, they introduce mock exercises conducted by scientists, journalists to start visiting them until they pass the exercise and opened for the tourists to trek.

Mountain gorillas are situated in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park situated in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo in the whole world. But gorilla habituation is done in Rushaga sector located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park with one Bushaho gorilla family which has been left for habituation.

Chimpanzees are found in different parts of Uganda including Kibale National park situated in western Uganda, the biggest rain forest and well know destination for Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, Budongo forest reserve situated in northwestern Uganda and second-biggest chimpanzee trekking destination, Kyambura Gorge reserve in Queen Elizabeth National park, Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary on Lake Victoria which shelters over 49 orphaned Chimpanzees that were rescued by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Toro Semuliki game reserve in western Uganda Kalinzu forest reserve close to Queen Elizabeth National park and Uganda Wildlife Education centre. But Chimpanzee habituation is done in Kibale National park and Budongo forest.

Gorilla and Chimpanzee habituation is an amazing experience since the visitors spend more time with in the presence of the primates compared to the trekking experience where you spend only one hour with them.

Difference between Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

Gorilla habituation is done in Rushaga sector located in the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable National park in south western Uganda. Rushaga sector consists of Nshongi, Mishaya, Bweza, Busingye, Kahungye, Kutu, Mukisa, Bikingi and Bushaho gorilla families, where only Bushaho family was left out for habituation while Chimpanzee habituation is done in Kibale National park in western Uganda the most popular destination for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda and in Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park.

The cost for Gorilla habituation is 1500 US dollars while the cost for Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale National park is 220 US dollars.

Gorilla habituation in Rushaga sector allows visitors only four hours in the presence of mountain Gorillas for observation, photography and learning more about the gorillas while Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale National park allows visitors to be in the presence of the Chimpanzees for a whole day as they also participate in the habituation, chat and share experience with the researchers.

The number of people allowed to participate in gorilla trekking is only four people while the number of people allowed to participate in Chimpanzee trekking was once six people and later changed to eight people and now increased to 12 people meaning many people are allowed to book permits for Chimpanzee trekking.

  • Time and travel distance

The distance from Entebbe airport to Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National park for Gorilla habituation is 9-10 hours drive which quite hectic and tiresome on the road while the distance from Entebbe airport to Kibale National park is 5-6 hours drive also by road means which is a bit nearer compared to Bwindi. However, Bwindi Impenetrable National park can be accessed by air transport means from Entebbe airport to Kihihi airstrip for an hour.

The other difference between gorilla and chimpanzee habituation is that the experience is totally different because gorillas and chimpanzees behave differently. The gorillas stay in families and chimpanzees stay in communities which makes gorilla habituation more organized compared to chimpanzee habituation.

Similarities between Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation

Both Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation experiences require people who are 15 years old and above to participate in the habituation process because the activity needs physical fitness to hike through trails of the uplands and lowlands of the rain forests. Also, the young people carry infectious diseases which may catch the gorillas and chimpanzees.

Gorilla and Chimpanzee habituation experiences require the same habituation equipment like hiking boots, trousers, long-sleeved shirts/blouses, insect repellant, rain jacket, hat among others as you head out to meet the primates in their hard to reach natural habitats.

Just like Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking, also Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation has the same rules and regulations that you are taken through before you set off to the forest for Habituation. These rules include; keep voices low when in the presence of gorillas and chimpanzees, always keep a distance of 7 and 8 meters away from the gorillas and chimpanzees respectively, not to eat and drink near the primates, among others.

Permits for both gorilla and chimpanzee habituation are obtained direct from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a government organization that regulates the conservation of Wildlife or through tour operators and guest who want to participate in Habituation are advised to book 6 months prior to the habituation time.

Both Gorilla and Chimpanzee Habituation National parks can be visited in the months of January, February, June, July, August and December which are also referred to the peak season when the trails are dry and less muddy, this makes it easy for primate habituation.

Like gorilla trekking, both activities of Gorilla habituation and Chimpanzee habituation, require the participants to wake up early in the morning for 30 minutes briefing then head out to the forest guided by the researchers and ranger guides to start your memorable experience of habituation where you spend more hours in the presence of the primates.