Wilson Asiimwe

“If each and every one of us could act like those chimpanzees which can even plant trees, then the environment would be clearly preserved,” opines George Businge – the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve and Hoima Central Wildlife Area Warden under the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).  

According to conservationists like Businge, the only problem with people living adjacent to conservation areas is that they like cutting trees more than planting.

His view underscores the less appreciated contribution of wild animals to environmental conservation.

Although some wild animals are demonized for their attacks on people and crop destruction, conservationists contend that they however, deserve appreciation for their vital role in regenerating trees – a necessary and vital step in environmental conservation.

From consumption of fruits and the passing out of seeds, enriching soil fertility through their droppings, wild animals such as chimpanzees, baboons, monkeys and some wild birds need to be protected against any human harm by conserving their habitats.

Moses Ssemahunge, the Manager Bulindi Chimpanzee and Community Project (BCCP), says the Chimps disperse tree seeds that later germinate in the fertile soils leading to environmental conservation and regeneration of natural plant species especially natural forests.

Ssemahunge adds that these non-human environmental actors move an extra mile indirectly replanting fruit trees like jackfruit trees that man has currently resorted to destroying for charcoal burning at the expense of keeping the environment green and other benefits like being sources of nutritious food.

“The population of Chimps at Bulindi are reducing because of the increasing human activities in their natural habitats. Most of them have shifted to Bugoma natural forest because people are cutting down trees for charcoal,” Ssemahunge says.

A Monkey in Kibaale National Park in Uganda. Photo by Emma Muchunguzi.

Ssemahunge wants an end to the ongoing activities like agriculture, charcoal burning, timber harvesting that are leading to destruction of natural forests like Bugoma which hosts the largest populations of Chimps in Bunyoro region.

He calls on all government stakeholders to join hands with compassionate environmentalists to rally and create public awareness on the important role fruit eating wild animals play in forest conservation for a green and healthy environment.

On his part, Businge wants people adjacent to the conservation areas to stop acts of deforestation to satisfy their human needs because such activities certainly leads to climate change and loss of biodiversity.

He stresses that chimpanzees being agents of seed dispersal leading to reforestation and afforestation, this will help to recover the human perpetrated lost conducive weather patterns and the cool pleasant green environment in the country.

This story was produced with support from Apes Reporting Project (ARP). ARP is a project of Water Journalists Africa, which also runs InfoNile, a geojournalism flagship project.

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