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In Uganda, Chimpanzees Are Revenging Against Habitat Loss

4 Min Read
An Army of Chimpanzees surveying their habitat

Human invasion of vast natural habitats for these primates has turned them defensive as they put up a deadly fight against any intruders.

Throughout Western aregion of Uganda, the chimpanzees have reportedly become dangerous because of what is perceived as ‘Habitat Loss’.

So far, three deaths have been reported and dozens of additional injuries or escapes have occurred as a result of these attacks targeting humans.

According to National Geographic, an American pay television network and flagship channel dedicated to History, Science, Travel and Animals, Uganda is looking on as much of wild habitat is encroached.

“The native forest that once covered these hillsides is now largely gone, much of it cut during recent decades for timber and firewood, and cleared to plant crops,” the channel said early November.

Ntegeka Semata, a resident of Muhororo, Kibale district in Uganda, told National Geographic, that in 2014, she witnessed a chimpanzee fatally attacked a 2-year-old child, stealing the baby from his mother.

She was digging while her four young children were with her. When she turned her back to get water, the chimp took her child by the hand and ran off.

The child screamed, which caused the other villagers to pay attention and pursued the Chimpanzee, but it was too late.

“It broke off the arm, hurt him on the head, and opened the stomach and removed kidneys,” Semata continued, adding that the child died on the way to the local hospital.

Semata and her husband lived in the village for more than three years and built a bamboo fence around their tiny backyard to prevent the chimps from getting in.

However, the bamboo fence was no match for the chimps, which kept returning and eventually Ntegeka and her husband were forced to leave their house by the end of 2017, moving to a rented room three miles away.

Conservationists say it’s unclear why the chimps are attacking young children.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) says that chimps can “be aggressive and unfriendly, particularly towards unrelated individuals.”

The UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha, said recently, it is “hard” or even “impossible” to prevent clearing of the areas.

“We can only plead; we can only educate and hope that people will appreciate them,” he added.

Chimpanzees are sociable, communicative and intelligent mammals. They are humans’ closest living relatives, sharing “at least 94 [percent] of its DNA,” according to conservation experts.

Rwanda hosts about 500 chimpanzees in Nyungwe national park alone, located in the southern Province of the country.

The two areas where chimps can be trekked in Nyungwe are Cyamudongo and Uwinka.

Rwanda observes strict conservation standards and in 2005 declared Nyungwe forest as a “National Park” – the highest protection level in Rwanda in terms of nature conservation.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature projects there are less than 300,000 chimpanzees across the African continent.