Shrinking forest habitat has caused chimpanzees in Uganda to start raiding local villages for food


Vicious chimpanzee attacks are on the rise in western Uganda and one mother has shared her account of a chimp ripping off her toddler’s arm and tearing out his kidneys. 

Ntegeka Semata, a mother-of-four in western Uganda, said that a murderous chimp kidnapped and savaged her two-year-old son while she worked on one of her farm fields in 2014.  

The ape came into the field, grabbed the two-year-old boy, and stole him away into the dense jungle. 

She and a group of villagers chased the ape down but it was too late.

‘It broke off the arm, hurt him on the head, and opened the stomach and removed the kidneys,’ she told National Geographic magazine. 

The boy died on his way to  hospital.

Pictured: File image of a chimpanzee. Chimpanzees in western Uganda have begun raiding local villages and farms for food, and they have reportedly kidnapped and killed at least six children in the country in recent years

In the coming months, chimps continued to gather around the woman’s house until she and her remaining family members decided to move out of fear for their safety.

At least six children have been killed by chimp attacks in recent years and countless others have been snatched and dragged into the forest. 

Researchers say that shrinking forest habitats are forcing the apes, which are famed for their intelligence, aggression and brutality, to come into contact with humans because their food sources are becoming scarce. 

Pictured: File image of children in the Kibale National Park, western Uganda. While chimps are generally wary of adult humans, some suggest they're drawn by curiosity to smaller children

Pictured: File image of children in the Kibale National Park, western Uganda. While chimps are generally wary of adult humans, some suggest they’re drawn by curiosity to smaller children

It’s unclear what exactly draws chimps to children.

Adult chimps have an aversion to adult humans, and especially males, but some suggest it’s simple curiosity that draws them to children.

That curiosity can become dangerous because chimps are about one and a half times stronger than similarly proportioned humans, and they also have less precise control over their muscles, so they can sometimes act out far more forcefully than they intend to.

Chimps are an endangered species, with fewer than 300,000 across all of Africa.

In Uganda, it’s illegal to hunt or kill chimpanzees, though some locals have organized hunts to defend their territory.

Others have made peace with the monkeys as an inevitable part of their new daily lives.

‘The chimps are very clever,’ said Lillian Tinkasiimire, who lives in the region.

Pictured: Aerial view showing the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Uganda has lost 63 per cent of its forests and jungles in the last 25 years, putting pressure on chimpanzees to feed themselves as their habitat slowly shrinks

Pictured: Aerial view showing the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Uganda has lost 63 per cent of its forests and jungles in the last 25 years, putting pressure on chimpanzees to feed themselves as their habitat slowly shrinks

She regularly sees chimps come to her home to eat from a mango tree in front and a fig tree in the back yard, both of which saw frequent visits from chimps.

‘If you don’t chase them, they will be your friend.’

‘If you chase them, you will see fire.’

Uganda’s population grew from just 2.5 million in 1911 to 43.7 million in 2018.

Because around 80 percent of Uganda’s population is rural, they’ve supported themselves by cutting down forests and clearing land for new farms and villages.

In the last 25 years, Uganda has lost 63 percent of its forest cover, and today only 15.2 percent of the country is covered by the kinds of forests or woodlands that chimps would typically reside in, sustaining themselves on a diet of mostly wild fruit.

Chimps have adapted to the new environmental pressures, according to a new report from National Geographic, by using nearby villages as food sources, taking fruit from trees outside homes and pillaging farm fields where locals grow corn and cassava along with cash crops like tobacco, coffee, and sugarcane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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