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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: July 2010

13 - Conservation and research in the Budongo Forest Reserve, Masindi District, Western Uganda



This chapter is divided into three sections. In the first section we describe the history of conservation efforts from its beginnings as the Budongo Forest Project (BFP) up to approximately the year 2000. In the second section we describe more recent and ongoing conservation work by the Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS). In the third section we describe ongoing research at BCFS and how this impacts on conservation.


Vernon and Frankie Reynolds began research and conservation of the chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest in 1962, when they spent 10 months in the forest making the first ever study of forest-living chimpanzees (Reynolds, 1965; Reynolds and Reynolds, 1965).

Our main finding in that early study was what later became known as the fission–fusion social system of chimpanzees. We did not focus on conservation issues in that first study, being mainly concerned with finding out what we could about the life of wild forest-living chimpanzees. During the Amin period, we did not return to Uganda.

The issue of chimpanzee conservation came to the fore abruptly in 1988, when VR was made aware by Shirley McGreal of IPPL of the fact that chimpanzees from Budongo Forest were being poached and sold. The New Vision of Monday October 17, 1988 featured an article on its front page, headlined “Chimp racket blown.” The article was about the confiscation at Entebbe airport of two young chimpanzees bound for Dubai; it was suggested that they had come from Budongo.

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