Government in fundraising drive to save starving chimps

Saturday May 23 2020

Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary executive director,

Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary executive director, Dr Joshua Rukundo gestures as he talks to the State Minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi (right) and the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Ms Lilly Ajarova (2nd right). Photo by Eve Muganga 

By Eve Muganga

Government plans to launch a fundraising campaign to feed starving chimpanzees at Ngamba sanctuary.
“We’re going to re- arrange our budget and also launch an appeal to raise funds to see how we can support the Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary. It would be very embarrassing if we left the chimps to starve to death. As government, we need to work with the private sector to see how this can be solved,” the State Minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi said on Thursday during his visit to the sanctuary which is home to about 50 chimps.
According to the minister, government has been supporting the sanctuary through grants.

“Last year but one, we gave them Shs150 million for construction of the chimp fence. This time, our immediate concern is food for the chimps. My visit to the island was to show government commitment in supporting the sanctuary such that when Covid-19 is finally gone, we shall still be coming here to see our chimps. Therefore, we call upon everyone including the private sector to join us in this struggle,” he added.
Ms Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer for Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said before the virus pandemic, the sanctuary used to attract about 6,000 international tourists which would earn them about $300,000 (about Shs1 billion) in a year.
This was their major source income and would be supplemented with donations and grants from partners.

However, the challenges faced by managers of the sanctuary are more than just closed borders.
The transport infrastructure has also been destroyed by the rising water levels in Lake Victoria.
“Therefore, the livelihood of Ngamba and the chimps is at risk. This will require a lot of investment and as UTB, we have to fundraise for support through our partners,” she said.

Mr James Musinguzi, the sanctuary’s board chair said there are several other challenges which include flooding, that have affected the island.
“But as a board, we are going to mobilize ourselves as institutions that form the board of Ngamba to raise some money that must be able to go towards the feeding of these animals. It’s our obligation to do so and we can’t just look on as the chimps starve,” he said.

According to the sanctuary’s executive director, Dr Joshua Rukundo, the rising water levels are putting their business at risk.
”We depend on tourists but now everything has been affected which in turn is going to affect our income post-Covid. We may not be able to host tourists since we don’t have anywhere to host them,” he said.

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