In the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda, fruit production by forest trees is mysteriously declining. The result: chimps and other primates are raiding local subsistence farms. Dr. Fred Babweteera of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, along with graduate students from Makerere University, Kampala, are studying primates’ foraging habits and fruit trees’ pollination and fruiting cycles with the goal of developing new approaches to sharing the resources – and they need your help.
About 700 chimpanzees live in the Budongo Forest Reserve, the largest remaining tropical rainforest in East Africa. In addition, there are four other diurnal primate species in Budongo Forest. Each day, you’ll team up with field assistants at the Budongo Conservation Field Station to observe chimps and other primates as they forage for food in the morning and late afternoon.
You’ll also learn to identify local trees, and work alongside researchers to set insect traps, collect trapped insects, label and preserve the collected specimens for further identification. At the end of the day, you’ll relax at the research camp, enjoy sports with members of the Reserve staff, or walk the “Royal Mile” to take in the natural beauty of the rainforest.
Animal Observation, Vegetation Surveys, Community Interactions, Research
Volunteers watch primates closely in their natural habitat. Working with field assistants, you will spend time each day following primates and recording their foraging behavior. You’ll analyze trees in research plots to monitor fruiting patterns, and record rainfall and temperature to capture a full picture of the environment. To learn more about primate crop raiding, you’ll conduct surveys of local community members who live along the edge of the Budongo Forest, which means a unique chance to get to know the people that call this special place home.
The price of each project, which we call your contribution, covers all the costs associated with planning and managing our research projects, as well as preparing volunteers for their field experience with professional support, including a comprehensive pre-project briefing. Your contribution covers your food, accommodation, on-site travel, 24-hour emergency medical and evacuation insurance , carbon offsets, expert on-site training and field orientation, and components of the field research cost such as field permits and equipment. Support for these additional items ensures that your contribution will live on long after you have returned from the field.
The main additional costs will be your transport expenses to and from the rendezvous site. This means that airfares are not covered by your contribution. Additional costs may include passports, visas, airport taxes, and the costs of any side trips made before or after the expedition or on recreational days. Some expeditions have additional in-country travel costs to reach the research site
Meals and Accommodations
Camp consists of several simple buildings erected on a large clearing in Budongo Forest. You’ll stay in a single room that contains a bed, beddings, mosquito net, reading desk and a chair. All rooms are connected to solar electricity. There are three pit latrines on site which are shared by all. You’ll have access to a warm shower, every evening after a long day’s work. Water used at camp is harvested off the roofs or taken from the Sonso River.
Evening meals are prepared by cooks who will prepare dishes including rice, chapati, potatoes, spaghetti, beans, beef, fish, ground nuts (peanuts), cow peas, assorted fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs. There are other local foods such as cassava, stewed bananas (locally known as matooke) and maize bread (locally known as ugali or posho). Breakfast will be western style.