Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga National Park-Congo safari news

Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga-Congo safari news

Chimpanzee Habituation or chimp habituation in Congo can be done in Virunga National Park. Chimpanzee habituation and trekking/tracking are a day to day activity in Virunga National Park in search of man’s closest relatives surviving in the Virunga mountain. Chimpanzee trekking is done in the forest near the headquarters of the park in the area called Rumangabo. Chimpanzee trekking is opened after a chimpanzee habituation process which involves a painstakingly slow process of making chimps used to human presence.

Chimpanzees are one of the attractions in Virunga National Park also home to the only mountain gorillas in West Africa. Chimpanzee trekking start every day at 6:00am with a maximum of four (4) tourists are allowed to spend a maximum of one (1) hour with the chimpanzees. Early before trekkers get to the forest, trackers go to locate the chimpanzees as early as 5:00am just like it’s done before a Congo gorilla trekking safari.  Chimpanzee habituation starts the same way but trackers spend about four (4hours) learning the behavior of the chimpanzees.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has highly been affected by political instability in the country, and the chimpanzees have highly been threatened by instability making their protection very vital. If a tourist wants to book a chimpanzee trekking or habituation permit this can be done by a Congo safari tour operator.

The History of Chimpanzee habituation /Chimp trekking in Congo

Around 1987-1989 there was a network of about 80km trails created in the Tongo forest by Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) for chimpanzee trekking. At that moment, the process of chimpanzee habituation started and this took two years.  By 1989, more than 50 chimpanzees had been habituated for tracking by tourists on Congo safaris.

Just not long enough after they thought they had accomplished the process and had become a very important source of Tourism revenue both to the Government and the small community of Tongo. Unfortunately, just after three years there was civil unrest in the area and this put an end to chimpanzee trekking safaris that had started booming. In 2010, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) together with the local community re-launched the process and the trekking begun by June of that same year though on a small basis. In April 2012, hostilities erupted yet again and chimpanzee trekking had to be halted. The M23 rebellion, as the conflict was known, eventually ended in January 2014. The Tongo team still visits this population of chimpanzees on a daily basis. The group now consists of 32 individuals in three groups/ families.

Within Congo, unlike visiting chimpanzees in their natural habitat, you can also visit them at Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary just close to the lowland habitat of Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Bordering the country is Uganda, a lot politically stable and home to the world’s highest population of chimpanzees found in Kibale Forest National Park. Uganda chimpanzee trekking safaris can also continue to Kyambura Gorge (valley of apes) of Queen Elizabeth National Park or to Budongo forest (second best trekking destination) close to the popular Murchison Falls National Park.

Watching a so much human like ape leap on tree branches, chunk fruit and socialize creates captivating memories, don’t miss out on a Chimpanzee habituation or trekking experience in Congo.