Rare monkey specie found in Uganda
KAMPALA - A mangabey monkey. Recent research shows that the rare monkeys prefer to live in undisturbed natural high forests.
Buikwe - In the next one year, Ugandans and other tourists can prepare to engage in a new form of tourism activity—tracking the Mangabey monkeys.
Beyond the pleasure of following the grey-cheeked monkeys lies the unique fact that one will be tracking primates whose existence is largely limited to Uganda.
The government’s decision to promote the monkeys, also known as Uganda Mangabey or Lophocebus Ugandae, as the newest tourism product followed the commissioning of their habituation recently.
At the forefront of this initiative is the Ministry of Environment, the National Forestry Authority and Nature and Livelihood, an NGO.
Dr William Olupot, who works with Nature and Livelihood, said the monkeys are only found in Uganda although a small number lives on the Tanzanian side of the Uganda-Tanzania border along Lake Victoria.
“In Uganda, they are found in Lwamunda, Sango Bay and Bugoma forests in Kibale National Park and in the Mabira Central Forest Reserve in Buikwe District,” Dr Olupot said.
He said recent research has shown that the rare monkeys prefer to live in undisturbed natural high forests, prompting the authorities to start the habituation process.
The exercise, which will last between one and two years, will see tourism officials slowly introduce humans to monkeys in a bid to make the latter get used to the former.
Once the monkeys are comfortable relating with humans then the public will be free to track them like they do with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda.
Dr Olupot also wondered why Mabira, despite being close to the city (60kms from Kampala) with a large forest and plenty of flora and fauna was yet to be developed into a vibrant tourist destination.
Mr James Ndimukulaga, a director at the National Forest Authority, said far from claims that humans had invaded Mabira and destroyed it for charcoal and timber, the forest was still largely intact and could be developed into a tourism hub.
The call from Mr Leo Twinomuhangi, the ranger manager at NFA, however, was different.
He said there was evidence of “powerful” people connected to the UPDF, the police and local leadership clearing sections of the forest.
“I wish all the mentioned people can repent and stop the act. No one should ever cut a tree in Mabira and we will enjoy many more benefits,” he said.