Kibale National Park is one of the best well-known parks in the world where to see and have a nice experience with Common Chimpanzees in the wild.This park consists in a dense tropical rainforest that hosts 13 species of primates and an abundant birdlife.
The park is home of 375 species of birds.It’s one of the best parks in East Africa where to see Green-breasted Pitta,which is vocally active during the months of June to August.Ground Thrush is an endemic bird found only in here.Other interesting birdlife includes African grey Parrot,Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycather, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds and Grey-headed Oliveback among others.
To get there i got into a motorbike from Bigodi to Kanyanchu Station.The rough road goes through the park and locals told me that sometimes chimpanzees can be seen crossing the road.Once there i paid for the hefty permit to see chimpanzees, that costed me about 130 euros.It includes entrance fee and a guide that will locate a group of chimpanzees.The guides were armed for our own security to avoid any animal attack or illegal poachers that sometimes roam inside the park.
We walked through the jungle while our guide was in touch with other park staff that were active locating the main groups of habituated chimpanzees that live inside the park.The habituation program of wild chimps to human presence takes at least five to six years.
After 30 minutes walking we could spot the first specimen of Chimpanzee.It was a male that was quietly sitting on the ground.
The male looked at us attentively when he noticed our presence.
Afterwards, we saw a female that was in heat laying on a branch of a tree.Notice the inflated buttocks of the female in the picture below.
Two of the males were excited and started to scream and moved agitatedly.From time to time,they even shook the branches.One of them went down and began to drum on the base of the trunk of a tree.They kept performing these mating displays for quite a while.I have to admit that their screams were terrifying and i felt a bit nervous while i was there.
After about 20 minutes of frenetic activity, the group began to calm down.I felt more comfortable and i could resume the photo shooting.
The males jumped on the trees in search of leaves and fruits.These animals are omnivorous and they often hunt in a troop lead by the dominant male.They sometimes even practise cannibalism, eating infants of other chimpanzee groups.
Notice the abnormal big testicles of the male in the second picture.This is attributed to sperm competition due to the promiscuous mating behaviour of chimpanzees. Producing more sperm than the competitor enhances the odds of successful fertilisation. This has triggered evolution towards big testicles in chimpanzees and bonobos and small testicles in gorillas and gibbons, which the former living in harems with several females and hence without sperm competition and the latter being socially monogamous.
Chimpanzees are quite curious by nature and they were observing us from time to time, while they were not feeding.
These social creatures were seen continuously interacting with one another.They usually live in large communities of several males and females.Males and females attains a rank in their social hierarchy.The dominant males, called alpha males, are the most influential, controlling and mantaining cohesion inside the group.Alpha males have many allies in the group although they will show their power by erecting their hair to look bigger in size and charge when feel threatened.
In contrast, Bonobos, the other species of the genus Pan, are organised in female dominant societies, less hierarchical and aggressive, which its individuals use quite often sex as a way to solve conflicts.I call them the “hippie” Great Apes.
One of them took a nap in one of the nests they built on the branches last night.These nests are made up with branches lined above with soft leaves and twigs.They protect them from predators, insect bites and it’s believed that help them to thermoregulate their bodies.
We were allowed to stay with them only for an hour.Our group returned to the main station happy to have this amazing adventure.Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable, thing that makes us enjoy even more our experience !!!
I would like to do some birdwatching here but i had to reduce costs and continue my trip to Bwindi.
Next stop Bwindi National Park, with another thrilling adventure in a quest for Mountain Gorillas in the wild !!!
See you soon my friends !!!