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My PhD project is aimed at accomplishing one goal of the national chimpanzee action plan for Uganda, to enhance the viability of populations in major forest blocks by establishing corridors. Wambabya Forest Reserve is a forest fragment that lies between two major forest blocks, Bugoma Forest Reserve and Budongo Forest Reserve, respectively. The first step will be to connect Wambabya with Bugoma Forest since Wambabya lies closer to Bugoma than Budongo.
Wambabya has a population of around 120 chimpanzees (Plumptre et al. 2003). The habitat and the number of chimpanzees in that forest are too small to be viable, therefore we plan to study those chimpanzees and compare them with chimpanzees at Bugoma Forest Reserve and Budongo Forest Reserve to find out what they need to be able to travel between the forests. Data about behavioral and feeding ecology as well as chimpanzees ranging patterns and population genetics will provide relevant information for establishing connectivity between the two forests.
Data compared with findings from the chimpanzees in Budongo Forest Reserve will provide additional information on the adaptive capacity of chimpanzees in forest fragments. Understanding the behavioral ecology of such a community is essential in order to implement a corridor project and to reduce human-wildlife conflict.