Between working on TechnoServe Uganda projects, Rick and Wendy visited two national parks–Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks–and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Wild Chimp Forest. Landscapes of both parks, the Ngamba Chimp Sanctuary, and trekking Mountain Gorillas are on separate pages. Despite Idi Amin’s army using wildlife as amusing target practice, the animals have resiliently re-populated their habitats. They saw many more animals and beautiful scenery than anticipated, especially chimps in the wild right above our heads…amazing!…lions and leopards…majestic…tens of the 600 bird species. Uganda is a non-stop Bird Gallery! Here they’ve combined the animals viewed in both national parks and sanctuaries.
Wild Chimps above Us—No Barriers
The first of Wendy and Rick’s three most memorable Uganda animal experiences* was a guided, 5-mile jungle trek to find a troop of about 15 chimpanzees–not far from Murchison Falls Park. Their guide instructed them to stand confidently when in
the chimps’ territory, crouch submissively with eyes down if approached (to show respect), and NEVER in any case run because these animals will chase and kill. The chimps were in the trees just over our heads, hooting, shaking branches, swinging among the trees, and at one point surrounding us (based on their hollering). They are about 4 feet tall from head to toe and about 5 times as strong as humans though, thank heavens, they believe people are stronger. Rick and Wendy definitely were scared, especially when the guide mentioned that the horrible high-pitched screeching they heard was a Colobus monkey being slaughtered and eaten by the chimps in nearby treetops. When they returned to the car, Rick and Wendy were wet, muddy, bug-bitten, and totally thrilled!!! And they left with the recognition of the implications of over 98% overlap in human and chimp genetics.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
On the way to Murchison Falls National Park was the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where after walking 15 minutes into the bush, they stood less than 50 feet away from Bella and Kori, 2 very pregnant rhinos guarded by Umoja, a bull rhino imported from a U.S. zoo He stood guard while the babies’ father was busy siring more babies on the other side of the sanctuary…
*The two other outstanding animal adventures in Uganda were an overnight stay at Ngamba Chimp Sanctuary and a trek in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to view the highly endangered Mountain Gorillas. Each is on its own separate page.