Tomorrow I leave for the Budongo Forest Reserve, where 700 chimps live, one of the largest populations of chimps in Uganda. I am volunteering with an expedition organized by Earthwatch.org, called Tracking Chimps Through the Trees of Uganda.
During this volunteer research expedition, I will be investigating human, chimpanzee and monkey interactions while looking at strategies for sharing shrinking food resources between primates and local farmers.
I join scientists who have been monitoring the timing of natural events like the flowering, fruiting and leaf shedding of trees in this forest. They have been monitoring the forest for 20 years and have noticed how the trees are producing 15 percent less fruit. As an ecosystem, this effects both the behavior of the chimps who live in the forest and the subsistence farmers who live at the edge of the forest.
Impacts of Climate Change
I will be involved in monitoring the impacts of these changes and help to determine how climate change and the number of pollinating insects may have caused the decrease. We’ll also observe changes in chimps behavior and the increased interactions between chimps and humans, where chimps are invading people’s farms. In the end, the goal is to understand these relationships to create better forest management.
I will be in the field for two weeks as a citizen scientist collecting and recording data about chimps, trees and local farmers. I plan to post images and updates to this Blog, which will update to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. So stay tuned.