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Ngamba Island

The chimpanzees on Ngamba Island

chimpanzees on Ngamba IslandAll the chimpanzees on Ngamba Island have been confiscated from illegal dealers trying to sell the chimps as pets or smuggle them out of the country to sell abroad.

Preparing the chimps

Before the chimps could move from UWEC to Ngamba Island they had to get used to each other. In August 1997 the UWEC chimps were released from their tiny concrete cages into a larger enclosure within UWEC grounds. They were gradually integrated into a group and given time to sort out their natural hierarchy within the group and develop social bonds and friendships before being transferred to Ngamba.

The Transfer

chimpanzees on Ngamba IslandOn October 12th 1998 the chimpanzees were transferred from UWEC to Ngamba island sanctuary by boat. They were placed in the holding facilities for one night before being released into their , forest home.

For the first two weeks of their release each chimp was followed and observed by a research volunteer. The aim of the study was to observe how the chimps adapted to their environment, their social interactions and record their feeding behaviour in the forest.

The chimps are looked after on the island by a group of about six carers. They ensure that all the chimps are fed, look healthy and are happy. They have incredible commitment to the project and the chimpanzees.


Uganda’s First Lady, Mrs. Museveni,

The Official Opening

On October 3rd 1999 Ngamba island was officially opened by Uganda’s First Lady, Mrs. Museveni, who is a strong supporter of conservation and education projects within Uganda.


Status of the island

C himps playing on Ngamba IslandNgamba Island is now home to over 33 chimpanzees, eleven of whom were received over the past ten months and are still undergoing integration.

The chimps have settled into their island life extremely well and have established their own pathways and sitting areas in the forest. However, the Ngamba island sanctuary is now full.

The Future

Ngamba island was officially openedChimpanzees continue to pour into Uganda. Before Ngamba Island existed UWEC were receiving one chimpanzee every eighteen months. From this estimate, it was thought that Ngamba would reach its carrying capacity after thirty years. However, the war in DRC has resulted in a huge influx of chimpanzees and UWEC is now receiving at least one chimpanzee every month. Ngamba has already reached its carrying capacity in just two years and a sanctuary site is desperately needed.


sites have been identified on nearby islands but funding is desperately needed. The charities involved in CSWCT will continue to search for funding opportunities and ways in which we can ensure that we provide the best for the orphaned chimpanzees in Uganda.

How can you help?

Send in funds to help build the sanctuaries.

Adopt Bwambale through Born Free to help secure funds for the project.

You can even visit Ngamba Island to experience its peace, the chimps and the other wildlife the island supports.


Should you require any further information, please contact Shelley Petch at Born Free Foundation on:

+ 44 (0)1403 240 170 or


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