In about a year or so, the grey Uganda mangabey will be one of the new tourism products after the commissioning of their habituation by the National Forestry Authority, Ministry of the Environment and NGO- Nature and Livelihood.
|The Uganda mangabey|
The habituation is expected to last between one and two years, when the Mangabeys will slowly be introduced to humans in order to get them used to human presence. Once the monkeys are used to interacting with humans then the public will be free to track them as they do with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Chimpanzees in Kibale and Kyambura Gorge in south western Uganda.
Dr William Olupot, who works with Nature and Livelihood, said the monkeys are only found in Uganda although a small number lives on the Tanzanian side of the Uganda-Tanzania border along Lake Victoria according to a report in the local Daily Monitor. The Uganda mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae) is a species of Old World monkey found only in Uganda. This crested mangabey was previously thought to be part of the population of the grey-cheeked mangabey (L. albigena). Colin Groves upgraded the Ugandan population into the new species L. ugandae on February 16, 2007. This species is dramatically smaller than the grey-cheeked mangabey, with a shorter skull and smaller face.
The decision to habituate and trek these monkeys is based on "new methods of analysis" that distinguish the monkey population from gray-cheeked mangabey living in Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo (DRC).
“In Uganda, they are found in Lwamunda, Sango Bay and Bugoma forests in Kibale National Park and in the Mabira Central Forest Reserve in Buikwe District,” Dr Olupot is quoted to have said.
The timing of the decision is noteworthy as the species' habitat has recently been targeted for clearing. Against the wishes of the National Forest Authority (NFA), Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni granted a 7,000 hectare concession in Mabira forest, a reserve since 1932, to the owners of a Uganda-based sugar firm. Museveni's decision was widely criticized by conservationists, parliament, and citizens of Uganda who said the sugar plantation would damage the tourism industry and impact local water supplies.
Dr. Groves said that his work has new urgency given the threat to Mariba.
He said recent research has shown that the rare monkeys prefer to live in undisturbed natural high forests, prompting the authorities to start the habituation process.
I’m sure that Uganda’s rare monkey species will attract more visitors to Uganda, Its fast becoming the best primate spot in Africa with lots of rare primate access.
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