Habituated Primates in Nyungwe include all primates that are in this national park in Rwanda, that can be visited by tourists and that have been trained to tolerate tourists. When we say that an animal is habituated (in this case habituated Primates in Nyungwe), this means that the animals are being monitored, observing their movement, growth in number and are being taught to tolerate human beings who visit them.
When primates are habituated, there is a chance to visit them in their natural habitats and enjoy their daily movement.
Nyungwe has 13 primates species, but not all are habituated. The fully habituated primates species are; Angolan Colobus monkeys and Chimpanzees. But also other primates are seen along the trails while hiking so habituating them is much easier than anything, for example, a group of Silver monkeys is much seen in the trail of Umuyove and when you are on canopy they are there most of the time.
Nyungwe National Park’s Habituated Primates
Angolan Colobus monkeys: Black and white Colobus monkeys are the largest troop of the Colobus monkeys in Africa with over 400 individuals in the troop. There is no other entertaining primate specie to visit in Nyungwe like Colobus monkeys as they give you a great view. If you visit them in the morning, you will have an exclusive experience in their feeding habit, observe movement, and experience how they socially live between themselves. If you are lucky you might see a newborn which is purely white. Here the trekking is changed when the Colobus monkeys’ first predator arrives. If you visit the group of Gisakura, you are going to be surprised by the relationship between the Colobus monkeys and the only one Mona monkey that lives together with them. The group in Gisakura has 30-40 individuals and they never enter into the Nyungwe, they always live in the fragmented forest of nyungwe around the Gisakura reception center. But it is the easiest Colobus monkey group to visit even though they are fewer in the numbers than the ones in the forest. The big one likes to be found in the center of the park around Uwinka reception center or in a few kilometers away when you see them moving in the canopy of the trees.
Nyungwe national park is home to 85 mammals species including 13 species of primates of which some are endemics to the Albertine Rift.
Chimpanzees: Nyungwe National Park accommodates two different chimpanzees groups. One is from the side of Uwinka and it is a habituated group of about over 30 individuals in the group. There is also a cyamudongo chimpanzee group from Nyungwe’s fragmented forest and it is a very small forest compared to Nyungwe. Cyamudongo was separated from nyungwe due to the human illegal activities that happened there. The forest is in the distance of 20km from Bugarama, also between Gisakura and Rusizi. Cyamudongo has between 40-60 chimpanzee’s individuals in the group. The first habituated group in the Nyungwe Forest National Park and the easiest group to trek. When you enter Cyamudongo you are welcomed by the sound of chimps. Chimpanzees are among animals that never hide because they never keep silent for long therefore you will easily locate these habituated primates.
Why habituate primates in Nyungwe?
Habituating primates is not a recent activity because it has been done in other countries. Especially in Nyungwe National Park. It started in the 1950s in Nyungwe Forest. The purpose was to familiarize the primates with the human in the purpose mostly of research and tourism. The purposes to be achieved here were to make primates in Nyungwe get familiar with seeing people, so that if the primates see people, they don’t run but they feel it’s normal. There is nothing good than trekking primates that will see you as a friend, this only happens when there is proper habituation of the primates.
Habituating primates in Nyungwe, has increased the number of trekkers and it is one of the most done activities in Nyungwe Forest.