Last Sunday, I traveled to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victory, near Entebbe, Uganda. I really didn’t know what to expect; I had done little preparation.
After a half-hour boat journey, we arrived at the island. After a brief introduction, our guide left us some free time before our encounter with the chimps. To my surprise, Dr. Jane Goodall was also on the small island. We joined a brief celebration of her 80th birthday.
The island–a refuge for chimps that cannot be returned to the wild–is 95 percent chimp habitat; the remaining 5 percent is the visitor center and sanctuary infrastructure. Separating the two areas is a fence system worthy of “Jurassic Park.”
The security system, which includes a double fence complete with DMZ, is very impressive. It is designed to keep the chimps in their 95 percent of the island.
During the introductory presentation, we were shown the place we were to assemble in case of an emergency (chimp invasion?) and told that during an extreme emergency we should seek refuge in the lake. An interesting possibility given that the island is also a refuge large monitor lizards.
At 11 am, we headed up to watch the chimps being fed. We were told that there are 42 on the island and they are fed 4 times a day. The food at 11 was largely fruit which was tossed over the 15′-high inner fence.