Budongo Forest Reserve in Murchison Falls National Park Conservation Area
Budongo Forest Uganda is found in the northwestern on the way to Murchison Falls National Park. The forest is on the escarpment northeastern side of Lake Albert. The jungle, formerly known for abundance of mahogany trees is a home to dozens of chimpanzees. And it is one of the many chimp tracking destinations in Uganda. It is a home for an outstandingly large mahogany tree, more than 80 meters tall and about 20 meters in perimeter.
Budongo Forest is habitat to between 600-700 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). And the main goal of the Budongo Forest Conservation Field Station is to study, conserve and safeguard the local chimpanzee populations. In the 1960s, it’s when the chimpanzees of the forest were first studied.
Activities in Budongo Forest Activities
Lots of amazing activities can be carried out in Budongo Forest Reserve. These tourist activities include Chimpanzee trekking safaris plus Chimp Habituation Experience, Forest walks and Bird watching tours. Others also entail Wildlife safari tours as well as research and conservation programmes among others. Out of these activities, Chimp Tracking and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience are the commonest.
Budongo Activity Highlights:-
- Chimp Trekking – Have a guided forest walk looking for habituated chimpanzee groups.
- Chimp Habituation Experience – Under this experience, you take a full day in the midst of the chimpanzees as you learn more about their behaviours.
- Bird Watching – Look for some elusive bird species like the Paradise Flycatcher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Black-eared ground thrush, Blue-breasted kingfisher, Brown twin-spot, Cameroon sombre greenbul, Cassin’s hawk eagle, Cassin’s spinetail and the Chestnut-capped flycatcher among others.
- Forest Walks – Experience some amazing guided forest walks on a network of multiple trails in the jungle.
Chimpanzee Groups in the Forest of Budongo
The forest has three groups of chimpanzees that have been habituated to human beings. More often, when you take a 3 day Chimpanzee Trekking Tour in the forest, you will be able to spot these primate species who are the major residents of the jungle. These Chimp groups include:-
- Sonso Community
- Waibira Community
- Kaniyo-Pabidi Community
Budongo Forest Setting and Conservation
The forest is approximately 435 km² in size is characterised largely of moist, medium-altitude, semi-deciduous woodland, with spots of grassland and forest. The jungle occupies a moderately rolling scenery, leaning down to the East African Rift. Four streams that flow into Lake Albert include Sonso, Waisoke, Siba and Kamirambwa drain the green forest. The forest’s annual rainfall is between 1200 – 2200 mm and the rainy season runs from March to May and still from September to November. Then the dry season occurs between December and February.
Budongo Forest has over 360 species of bird, about 290 butterflies, 130 moths, 465 trees plus 24 mammals, of which 9 are apes. Chimpanzee trekking is the forest’s main tour activity prevalent with eco-tourists, requiring behavioural rules for visitors to avoid unwarranted disruption of both the forest and animals therein. Trails have been cut going across the forest, primarily to ease right to use for research workers and eco-tourists and forest animals.
Wildlife Research in Budongo Forest
In 1962 is the year Vernon Reynolds first studied chimps in this forest. And in 1965, he wrote a book about the forest and its chimpanzees. He was among the three pioneers who were field researchers. The other two were Jane Goodall and Adriaan Kortlandt. In the eras of 1970s and 1980s, the civil war engulfed the country, accompanied law and order breakdown. Chimpanzee mothers were killed and the babies taken from the forestry and smuggled to Asia, Europe and America. Reynolds came back to Uganda in 1990 to ascertain whether a feasible populace of chimpanzees was still existent in Budongo. And by 1995, about fifty individuals had been recognised, a figure that remained constant until 2000 when the figures began to rise due to an arrival of chimpanzees from other parts.
The research team at Budongo renovated and used structures that had been erected for the Budongo Sawmills Ltd but had been abandoned in the days of Former President of Uganda, Idi Amin (1971-1979). In the year 2005, funding for the project was offered by the RZSS at Edinburgh Zoo plus a number of other sources. The Budongo Forest Project turned into a Ugandan NGO and renamed the Budongo Conservation Field Station.