Stream is Tanzania's smallest park (52 sq km) and is home of the
world famous chimp reserve. It is located 16 km north of Kigoma on
the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. There are plenty
of baboons around, but the focal point of Gombe are the chimps. Itís
reconciling their interests with those of tourism that has occupied
the founder of the reserve, Jane Goodall, for 25 years. Here, in the
1960ís, Goodall carried out major research conclusively the unique
relationship between man and chimpanzee, as we share 95% of our
genes with them (some people may share more than others!) and they
have similar hearing, smells and other senses to humans.
Habituating the chimps - getting them used to coping with people -
involves living in the middle of dense jungle, often alone, and
under trying conditions. Despite all this, the biggest threat to the
chimps still comes from humans. In places like Saudi Arabia and
Dubai itís the thing to have a little collection of exotic animals
and you must have a chimp. And some chimps get smuggled through into
east Europe or Mexico or Cuba or South America for medical research
or for entertainment. The Goodall institute offer rewards to anyone
who gives evidence of people who are abusing chimps. Because of
rapid habitat destruction, the chimpanzee is an endangered species.
Only around 100,000 - 200,000 exist in the wild. Chimpanzees eat
plants and meat, they are omnivores, eating forest fruits and ants,
termites and small animals, and occasionally other smaller monkeys.
They hang around in groups of around 50, and smaller sub gangs of
7or 8 chimps.
They use a complex language of sounds, the calls of the chimps are
always in the air of the Gombe reserve, so you can be in the
presence of the great monkey even if you donít have a chance to see
a wild chimp up close.
Finding the chimps is largely a matter of luck as they can
theoretically be anywhere from the top of the 8000 ft mountains to
the lakeshore at 2500 ft. However, the trackers at the camp know the
animals well and are nearly always in touch with their movements
from day to day. The length of walk can vary enormously - they are
sometimes literally at the back of the camp and other days they are
nowhere to be seen - but on average you should expect to walk for at
least 2-3 hours. If you fail to spot a wild chimp, don't get too
disheartened, the landscape and flora and fauna is fantastic in and
around the reserve. From Janeís Peak you can see a stunning view of
the entire park and Kakombe Waterfall.
How to get there:
Kigoma is connected to Dar and Arusha by scheduled flights, to Dar
and Mwanza by a slow rail service, to Dar, Mwanza, and Mbeya by
rough dirt roads, and to Mpulugu in Zambia by a weekly ferry.
From Kigoma, local lake-taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe,
or motorboats can be chartered, taking less than one hour.
When to go:
The chimps don't roam as far in the wet season (February-June,
November-mid December) so may be easier to find; better picture
opportunities in the dry (July-October and late December)
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