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1 November 2008 Beleaguered Chimpanzees in the Agricultural District of Hoima, Western Uganda
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With approximately 5,000 chimpanzees, Uganda is important for the conservation of the eastern subspecies Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. The population distribution is highly fragmented, however, and the prospects for the long-term viability of many populations will be greatly improved if dispersal opportunities are maintained between major forests via migratory corridors. Chimpanzees in unprotected human-dominated habitat outside the main forest blocks are often ignored by research and conservation efforts. This study assessed the status and distribution of chimpanzees in northern Hoima District, western Uganda. The survey region covered 400 km2 between 1°26′–1°37′N and 31°09′–31°32′E, and separates two major forest blocks, Bugoma and Budongo. Chimpanzees use small forest fragments along watercourses throughout this region, both on private or communal land and in small government reserves, and a number of distinct groups (‘communities’) are present. There has been no evidence to indicate that chimpanzee populations are isolated; on the contrary chimpanzees appear highly mobile in this forest-farm habitat, confirming the region's corridor potential. At one site in the region, chimpanzees occur at an estimated density of 0.66 individuals/km2 which, if extrapolated across the survey area, implies a larger population than previously thought. Recent and rapid habitat change resulting from unregulated timber extraction and clearance of fragments for agriculture—particularly for cash crops such as tobacco—has exposed the chimpanzees, causing increased negative interactions between apes and farming communities. The chimpanzees in northern Hoima are unlikely to survive without immediate intervention.

Matthew R. McLennan "Beleaguered Chimpanzees in the Agricultural District of Hoima, Western Uganda," Primate Conservation 23(1), 45-54, (1 November 2008).
Received: 1 September 2008; Accepted: 1 October 2008; Published: 1 November 2008

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