Protecting Chimpanzees from Snares
Through our partnership with the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, the North Carolina Zoo has been helping to protect one of the largest remaining populations of wild chimpanzee.
Large Population - Threatened Chimpanzees
Kibale National Park contains the largest population of chimpanzees in Uganda and one of the largest in East Africa, making it one of the few remaining strongholds for chimpanzees in the wild. The chimpanzee population in Kibale National Park is under constant threat from poaching, particularly snaring. Although there are local taboos against eating chimpanzees, they get caught in the snares set by poachers to catch other wildlife so often that it is estimated that one-third of the chimpanzees within the park have snare-related injuries. Those chimpanzees who are able to free themselves usually cannot remove the snares entirely, and over time, the wire or nylon material becomes wrapped tighter and tighter around their fingers, hands, or feet, causing pain and infection, and often leading to the loss of the snared body parts entirely or even death.
Ramping Up Anti-Poaching Efforts
Since 2010, the North Carolina Zoo has been working with the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project as well as several other local partners to protect chimpanzees and other species in Kibale. The Ngogo Chimpanzee Project employs anti-poaching teams who work with Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers to patrol the park and remove snares. The Zoo has provided these anti-poaching teams with mobile devices equipped with a database developed by the Zoo to make for more streamlined collection of data on chimpanzee movements and poacher activities. This system also allows for easier data evaluation, which in turn results in better-informed future patrolling efforts. In 2016, with Zoo support, the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project was able to add a third snare removal team based in an area known from the data they collected on their Zoo-provided mobile devices to be heavily poached.
Our efforts are having a substantial impact. Since the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project began its snare removal program in 2010, none of the chimpanzees studied by the project have been snared. In contrast, before 2010, an average of 1 chimpanzee per year became snared.
Reaching Out Through Environmental Education
In addition to supporting the patrols, Ngogo Chimpanzee Project has worked with North Carolina Zoo’s UNITE conservation education program to improve education in schools around Kibale National Park. You can read more about the Zoo’s UNITE project on this page.
Zoo Visitors Contribute Directly
Zoo visitors can directly support the Zoo’s chimpanzee work, by depositing funds into the donation box near the chimpanzee exhibit. Funds donated in this way have allowed us to cover between 15-30% of the snare removal team’s core operating costs depending on the year.
Partners: Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, Kibale Chimp Project, Uganda Wildlife Authority