Kibale National park stretches over an expanse of approximately 795 kilometers and its known to hold one of most stunning tropical forests in the whole of Uganda. the Forest is most prominent due to its resident chimpanzees which live here together with a variety of other forest wildlife including several primates.
The Kibale forest covers the northern and the central section of Kibale National park. The northern section of the Kibale National park is elevated with a peak of approximately 1590 meters above sea level. This northern section in addition is the wettest area receiving an annual rainfall of close to 1700mm.The months that receive most rain are from March to May and then September to November. Temperatures here range from 14 to 27°c, whereas the south receives higher temperatures since its terrain drops onto the floor of the Great Rift Valley.
This lowland is characterized by a Montane Forest, tropical rain-forest and a damp deciduous forest that serve as habitat to a wide variety of wildlife among which are the chimpanzees. The Chimpanzee frequently called a Chimp is known to be the existing animal closest in nature to human and is believed to share 98% of their DNA with humans.
The weight of a mature well grown male chimpanzee is approximated to be between 35 – 70 kilograms and close to three meters tall whereas the female grow up to 26 – 50 kilograms and height of 2 – 4 feet.
Chimpanzees’ life expectancy is at 40 years although some can live up to 60 years.
Several efforts have been acknowledges, put in place and supported to conserve the chimpanzees with a total population of more than 1400 chimps living in this forest. The Jane Goodall Foundation has played a significant role in conserving not only mountain Gorillas but the Chimpanzees as well in Uganda. Unique about Kibale Forest is that it is not only habitat to the chimpanzee but to 12 other primate species among which are: the blue monkeys, pottos monkey, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, red colobus, grey-cheeked mangabeys, bush babies, L’Hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkeys and the black and white colobus monkeys.
Guided Chimpanzee tracking of the habituated chimpanzee families in done in this forest and this has been the main reason as to why several people set out to visit this national park. The Guided walks within the forest are conducted daily and guests are allowed to take part in the habituation process of chimpanzees starting early in the morning when the chimps are de-nesting and in the evening when they lay their nests for the overnight Chimp tracking is very exciting since you get the chance to marvel at the human-like activities of these apes. The tracking requires less walking as compared to gorilla tracking and it is very rewarding as you see chimps jumping from one tree brunch to another searching for fruits while others spend some time on the ground.
The chimpanzees are recognized as the most prominent habitats in this verdant forest with a great number of them taking shelter here. The Kanyanchu River-Camp group or family of chimpanzees was back in 1991 habituated and is open for tourism activity.
The gentle landscape of Kibale Forest characterized with rolling hills plus trails traverse through the verdant forest at regular distance make walking in the forest somewhat easy. Every morning plus afternoon 4 groups each with 8 people are permitted to track these chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are generally more active compared to mountain gorillas and live in larger families with 30 and more members. Similar to gorilla trekking, chances of seeing the chimpanzee is estimated to 90%. The Permits go at a price of $90 per individual per day, and it is advised that persons interested book earlier.
Other Wildlife living in Kibale Forest include over 325 species of birds among which are the African-grey parrot, African pitta, noisy hornbills, black-bee eater, yellow-spotted nectar, crowned eagle, yellow-romped tinker bird and the little greenbul.
In addition, Kibale Forest National Park is habitat to the largest population of forest elephants in the whole of Uganda. These bashful, smaller yet more hairy compared to their savannah equals, live deep within the verdant forest together with buffaloes plus the huge forest hogs and for that reason, these are hardly seen although they leave evident traces behind to expose their presence within the forest. The most commonly sighted at mammals are the bushbucks, large forest squirrels and the duikers.