Budongo Eco Lodge

Conservation

Tourism for Tomorros AwardsIn conjuction with the Jane Goodall Institute, Budongo Eco Lodge was nominated for the Tourism for Tomorrow Conservation Award 2011! Finalists for this award were selected based on the greatest tangible contribution to the preservation of nature, including the protection of wildlife, expanding and restoring natural habitat, and supporting biodiversity conservation.

The survival of this magical forest is the result of years of continuous protection by kings, governments, conservationists and the local people. Nevertheless, the four greatest threats to the unique flora and fauna have been snare hunting, human encroachment, over-collection of forest products and illegal logging. With the revenues from eco-tourism activities such as chimp tracking and bird watching, a number of conservation projects can be supported:

  • Conservation Education Programs teach children and local community members about the value of the forest and its wildlife. Programs offer suggestions on how to use the forest wisely.
  • Law Enforcement monitors the reserve and prosecutes illegal users of the forest, thus protecting threatened species like chimpanzees and Mahogany trees.
  • Community Awards benefit the local people and increase their capacity to protect the natural resources.

Also the foundation of the Budongo Forest Project Field Station in 1990 by Dr Vernon Reynolds, which is located in the middle of Budongo Forest, plays a crucial role in the protection of the reserve. Although the main focus is the conservation and study of the habituated group of chimpanzees, it also carries out many other conservation and research activities, like collecting snares from the forest. Between January 2000 and April 2004, a total of 2300 snares in Budongo Forest were removed.

And YOU can help too! Following these guidelines will support the conservation of Budongo Forest:

  1. You can help too in the conservation of Budongo Forest!Respect wildlife and the environment by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints.
  2. Purchase crafts made from resources that are harvested sustainably in Uganda and benefit local communities and wildlife.
  3. Visit forest reserves and national parks often. Your admission and activities fee helps the protection of wildlife and supports the surrounding local communities.
  4. Share your Ugandan wildlife experience with friends and family.
  5. Learn more about Uganda’s conservation efforts by visiting the following links:

Use the forest and its resources wisely today
and it will be your legacy to the children of tomorrow…

Eco-tourism

Being situated in the protected area of Budongo Forest Reserve, within the borders of Murchison Falls National Park, we are highly committed to the conservation of nature and culture.

The construction of the lodge was well planned to create harmony between technology and the natural beauty of Budongo Forest. The facilities have been built with sustainably harvested pine wood and are all outfitted with composting toilets and solar powered energy. Thanks to its remote location and the unique environmentally friendly architecture, our guests will enjoy a true authentic Ugandan rainforest experience.

In order to minimize the impact on the environment and preserve the property’s biodiversity and eco-systems, the management carries out a comprehensive eco-tourism policy. Some of the contributions include:

  • All electricity is solar powered.
  • Special solar heating systems are used to provide hot water for showers and in the kitchen.
  • Rainwater is carefully collected and stored, which is sufficient to supply the entire lodge with water.
  • Close monitor of the daily water, electricity and solid waste consumption and find ways how to reduce the usage.
  • All garbage is separated and kitchen and garden waste are being composted.
  • Employment of local people and train them in hospitality services as well as how to preserve the natural environment.
  • Respecting the natural environment by limiting the noise, music and lightening as much as possible.
  • Use of biodegradable products.
  • Economical showers and composting toilets in the cabins and dormitory building.
  • Purchase of fresh food supplies from local farmers.
  • Involvement of local women for the supply of handcrafts in the Craft Shop.

Your participation in our eco-tourism program contributes to sustainable management of the forest, the long-term survival of chimpanzees and other wildlife, and the livelihood of the people in the surrounding communities.

Chimp Facts

Although Uganda is rich in nature and culture, the country is without a doubt Primate Destination Number 1 in Africa. Apart from the legendary mountain gorillas, the country hosts 19 other different species of primates, including the fascinating chimpanzees. Before the 20th century, the chimp population was over a several million in Uganda, but this number has dramatically decreased due to deterioration of their natural habitat. These days, Uganda is home to approximately 5,000 chimpanzees divided over about twelve forest blocks.

Chimpanzee communities can be visited in Kibale Forest National Park, Kyambura Gorge and Ngamba Island, a chimpanzee sanctuary in Lake Victoria that cares for orphanaged chimps. But one of the best places to see chimpanzees in the wild is definitely Budongo Forest Reserve, with a community of more than 600 chimpanzees.

Curious about the chimpanzees and their behaviour? Find out more about these great apes and get prepared for your chimp tracking!

Chimpanzee behaviour

Chimpanzees live in complex societies, solve complicated problems, make and use tools, engage in elaborate social interactions and communicate through a variety of sounds and gestures. When encountering wild chimpanzees, you may observe a variety of behaviours.

  • Feeding: Chimpanzees spend most of their active time in search of food. Their diet consists for 70% of fruit. Chimpanzees help regenerate the forest as the seeds in their dung are deposited in other areas of the forest.
  • Grooming: Grooming helps to remove dirt and parasites. However, its true importance is that the behaviour strengthens friendships and reduces tension among group members.
  • Travelling: Strong arms with grasping hands and feet allow chimpanzees to easily climb and brachiated through the trees. On the ground, chimpanzees most often move on all four hands, supporting their weight on the knuckles.
  • Maternal care: Chimpanzees are caring mothers. They place “tickle games” with their young and teach them the complex rules of the chimpanzee society. Youngsters remain with their mothers for 9 to 12 years before coming independent.

Chimpanzee life

Chimpanzees are long-lived, with some individuals reaching ages of more than 40 years. Like humans, chimpanzees mature slowly. Females typically have their first baby when they are 10 years old and may not breed again for 3 to 4 years.

Chimpanzees live in communities containing up to 120 individuals. These communities are territorial and live in defined home ranges. A territory that can support an entire community of chimpanzees requires many square kilometers of forest habitat.

The movement of chimpanzees is dictated by a variety of environmental and social factors. The distribution of food and watery, the presence of predators, the availability of cycling females and the size and movements of neighbouring communities all affect the group’s use of their habitat.

The future of the Chimpanzees

Each chimpanzee needs one square kilometer of high-quality habitat to have the resources they need to survive. Chimpanzees travel long distances on the ground in search of seasonal fruits scattered throughout the forest. The trees provide not only a variety of fruits, but also places to build sleeping nests and offer escape routes from danger.

Given the complex life of the chimpanzee and its dependence upon the forest, conservation efforts must be long-term and multifaceted.

Tracking Chimpanzees

Sharing 98.4% DNA with humans, chimps are our closest living relatives on earth. No surprise why tracking these amazing creates is such an once in a life time experience!

The guides at Budongo Forest are skilled in the art of chimpanzee tracking. They look for clues well hidden in the forest to located the chimpanzees. Here are a few examples:

  • Nests: Chimpanzees use tree branches and foliage to build nests that are used for sleeping. To spot a chimpanzee nest, you must have a keen eye as they often appear to be nothing more than a dense patch of foliage in the forest canopy.
  • Prints: Chimpanzees travel on the ground in a motion called knuckle walking. This type of movement can leave behind a knuckle print.
  • Dung: Chimpanzees dung can help the guides to determine how recently a chimpanzee has been in the area.
  • Fruits: When chimpanzees eat they discard parts of fruits or wads of leaves. These clues help the guides to track the chimpanzees.

Do’s and don’ts

As our esteemed guests, we ask you to respect our simple rules for the safety and preservation of the forest, its animals and visitors…

When in the forest:

  • … You must be accompanied by one of our guides
  • … Leave all items where you found them in the forest
  • … Smoking is prohibited

While viewing chimpanzees:

  • … Follow your guide’s instructions
  • … Remain at least 10 meters from the chimpanzees
  • … Don’t eat or drink in front of the chimpanzees
  • … Don’t use your flash when taking a photo as it frightens the chimps
  • … For conservation purposes time spent with the himpanzees is limited to one hour
  • … If you are ill you can are not allowed to visit the chimpanzees as you put them at risk
  • … The minimum age for chimp tracking is 15 years
  • … Group sizes for chimp tracking are limited to 8 people