Leaders decry inaccessibility to Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Tom Butime unveils the Chimp Logo ahead of the 25 Silver Jubilee celebration of Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary at Hotel Africana. Photo | Eve Muganga

What you need to know:

  • Dr Rukundo argued that once the challenge of accessibility to the island is sorted, more tourists will visit the facility

Mr Joshua Rukundo, the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary Executive Director, has raised concern over the lack of access to the tourist attraction.

“Many people would like to visit Ngamba but find it difficult to access it as they have to use private boats which are very costly and there is no public means. We urge the government to establish a ferry to Koome Island,” he told the Monitor on Thursday.

Dr Rukundo argued that once the challenge of accessibility to the island is sorted, more tourists will visit the facility.

“Currently, the sanctuary receives between 5000-6000 international visitors annually,’’ he said.

He revealed that, at the time of the sanctuary opening 25 years ago, there were about 6-10 chimpanzees being rescued every year, this represented a fraction of the chimpanzees that were being orphaned and or being trafficked illegally at the time. Over time, the rescues have now reduced to about 1-2 every 3 years.

“While this is still a fraction of the orphans being created, it is a significant reduction. A recent report on illegal primate trafficking commends the advances made by Uganda in the reduction of illegal primate trade, in the face of an apparent increase in demand for young primates and especially chimpanzees,” Dr Rukundo said.

Mr James Musinguzi, the board chairman of Ngamba chimpanzee trustee said: ‘’Looking ahead, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats. We will continue to work tirelessly to strengthen our partnerships, expand our initiatives, and advocate for the protection of these incredible creatures.’’

The former Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu noted that Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary has become an inspiration of hope for chimpanzees who have suffered unimaginable hardships.

“It is a sanctuary where these intelligent beings can heal, thrive, and rediscover their natural behaviours in a setting that closely resembles their natural habitat.’’

He further noted that over the past 25 years, Ngamba Island has not only been a sanctuary but also an educational Centre, welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe.

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Col Tom Butime said, Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary has positioned itself as a model sanctuary in Africa for the rehabilitation of chimpanzees.

Ngamba, which is part of the Koome group of islands on Lake Victoria in Mukono District and is home to 52 orphaned and rescued chimpanzees. The Sanctuary is set to make 25 years since its existence, on August 23, 2023.