The Kibale Chimpanzee Project is based in the Kibale National Park near the Ruwenzori Mountains in southwestern Uganda. The park, established in
1993, encompasses 776 square miles of primarily moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Kibale’s rich ecosystem is highlighted by particularly diverse populations of birds, butterflies, and mammals, including 13 species of primates. Kibale is home to more than 1200 East African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). KCP is housed at the Makerere University Biological Field Station in the northern section of Kibale National Park.
Studies of the Kanyawara community of chimpanzees were begun by Dr. Gilbert Isabirye-Basuta of Makerere University. In 1987, the Kibale Chimpanzee Project was officially established and daily chimpanzee observations began under the direction of Dr. Richard Wrangham of Harvard University.
The Kanyawara community currently numbers approximately 45 chimpanzees, all habituated to human observations. They are the subjects of one of the few long-term studies of wild chimpanzee behavioral ecology. The long-term dataset from KCP therefore makes valuable contributions to scientific understanding of behavioral impacts of forest seasonality, social relationships, behavioral development, life history, and determinants of reproductive success.
On a daily basis, the KCP permanent field staff and visiting researchers collect basic data on chimpanzee party composition, ranging, feeding, and social behavior. These records are complemented by collection of specialized data, including detailed records of tool use, hunting, and aggression, forest phenology, urine sampling for hormonal analysis, and fecal sampling for genetic studies.
Our field camp and daily research operations are coordinated by field manager Emily Otali, a recent PhD recipient from Makerere University. She coordinates a staff of talented field assistants whose intricate knowledge of the forest and the chimpanzees make our research possible.