Chimps, Snares and Wildlife Clubs

Young Chimpanzee

“If an animal escapes from the park and destroy my crops in the garden what can you do?” Rweteera Student

“Was the whole hand removed when Special was being injured by the snare?” Kasiisi Student

” If I enter the park and I don’t touch anything, is it also illegal?” Kiko Student

“Suppose you find me with a snare and I give you money, will you let me go?” Kyanyawara student


Sometimes in all the exciting programs that the Kasiisi Project is involved in it is easy to forget that our  roots are in research and conservation. We originated as a program of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project , with a  Mission to help protect Kibale Forest and its resident chimpanzees.  Although our focus is on schools and education, first and foremost, the Kasiisi Project is a conservation project. Once in a while it is good to reflect on why we do what we do.

Chimpanzees are our closest living relative. When we look into their eyes we  see minds almost as complex and intelligent as our own, and we recognize ourselves in many of the ways that they behave, both good and bad.  They have loving relationships, treat themselves with medicinal plants, use sticks in imaginative play and use tools. But they also beat and bully their women and wage deadly war on their neighbors.

Special’s Twins: Young female Special, nurses 2 rocks. Is she playing with them as human children play with dolls? Observations suggest that chimps use sticks and stones in imaginative play. (photo: R. Wrangham/KCP)

Chimpanzees  are threatened throughout Africa. Numbering a million just 50 years ago,  there may be as few as 172,000 remaining. Kibale Forest’s chimpanzees living at the boundary of great Congo rain forest are at the extreme eastern edge of their range. They are the largest population of chimpanzees in Uganda and the second largest of their sub-species in Africa.

Rapid population growth brings people and chimpanzees into increasing conflict. Chimps raid the gardens along the forest edge and people, setting illegal snares in the forest for pigs and antelope, inflict severe and sometimes fatal injuries on the chimpanzees who get caught in them. Increasing contact between chimps and people increases the possibility of disease transfer which can kill the chimps and may sicken people too.

The then alpha male Imoso was speared by an angry farmer during a crop raiding incident. (photo: P. Bertolani/KCP )

 Special recently suffered a severe injury to her hand as a result of being caught in a snare trap. Vets were able to dart both Imoso and Special to treat their wounds, but many injured chimpanzees are not so lucky. (photo: A. Bernard/KCP)







Young male Max lost both of his feet to snare injuries (photo: R. Donovan/KCP)

and adult male Twig lost his right hand. (photo: R. Donovan/KCP)










Tacugama with snare wire which became deeply embedded  into his fingers when he pulled the snare anchor out of the ground. Tacugama was also successfully darted and the snare removed. (phot0: P. Bertolani/KCP)

Darting can only be done in special circumstances. In most cases it is very dangerous for the chimpanzee and darted animals often die. The chimp must be in no risk of climbing and falling from trees and must be alone so that the vets can reach it quickly, unimpeded by protective friends . Since often chimps survive snare wounds and can function with missing limbs,   the jury is out on whether it is riskier to dart and treat them or leave them to recover alone.

The Kasiisi Project is committed to leading chimpanzee conservation education efforts in schools around Kibale. Over the coming year, we have many activities planned that will focus on increasing schoolchildren’s awareness about chimpanzee conservation. These initiatives were

Snares made of telephone pole cable

kicked off last week by presentations to our Wildlife Clubs by rangers from the Kibale Snare Removal Program, which operates daily anti-poaching patrols with the Uganda Wildlife Authority  inside the park. The presentations, which were funded by the Jane Goodall Institute (Austria & Netherlands), educated students about the


Kibale Chimpanzee Project Snare Removal Team talk to Kyanyawara Wildlife Club

unintended impact of illegal snare setting on Kibale’s chimpanzees and allowed students to ask questions and offer their opinions about this issue. Moreover, these presentations gave students an opportunity to interact with local role models who work in the field of conservation.

“Suppose you have planted crops or plants, which are hardly eaten by wild animals, won’t they trample and destroy them?” Kyanyawara Student

“Why do elephants come and eat our potatoes? Kyanyawara Student

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