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Africa primatological society calls for new strategies to protect mountain gorillas

FILE PHOTO: Mountain Gorilla

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The African primates society says it has convened a Kampala conference to develop new continental action plans for better conservation of primates in Africa.

It says the conference should develop new mechanisms for protection, conservation and preservation of primate species facing multiple existential threats including habitat disappearance associated to human population growth, diseases and poaching.

Some of the Primates facing increased threats are Mountain Gorillas, chimpanzees and the Golden Monkeys and the Colobus Monkeys. Uganda is considered the World’s primate capital for being home to 54 percent of the surviving global Gorilla population, 8 percent of the global mammals population and 35 percent of mammals in the African continent.

Dr Inza Kone, the President of the African Primatological Society says the conference that will be hosted from September 2nd to 6th in Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe will also develop mechanisms for research collaborations at the regional levels of Africa.

Dr Inza says until now, it has been difficult for primatologists to work together on research at the Continental or regional levels. He says protection of primates serves as flagship tourism products in most countries.

The conference will run under the theme: Primate Conservation in Africa, Challenges & Opportunities and it will be the second continental policy dialogue after the first which was hosted in Bingerville, Cote d’Ivoire attended by more than 150 primatologists from 22 countries across Africa and the rest of the World.

Dr Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, the Vice President of the Society says most primates on the African continent face the challenge of habitat destruction, bushmeat crisis and diseases including scabies, measles, Polio and Ebola.

She says without protection of the Primates, Uganda will lose 60 percent of its tourism potentials currently being contributed by the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees in Queen Elizabeth National Parks among others.

Nakalema says Uganda’s flagship primate, the Mountain Gorillas escaped the list of critically endangered wildlife species last year when her population exceeded 400 members. She says with just 5,000 members of Chimpanzees surviving, more efforts are needed to protect them through research, activism and networking.

Addressing the press at Uganda Media Center this afternoon, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities says the conference should culminate into better research on challenges of conservation of primates in Africa manifesting as diseases, changes in habitats and poaching among others.

Among Uganda’s premium primates is the Black-and-white colobus monkey locally known as ekiremu, enjeya, and engeye. It lacks thumbs due to deformity making it vulnerable to accidents, especially while making sky jumps.

Babies are born white and they change colour at three months. These monkeys’ preference for young leaves, with a daily intake of 2-3 kilograms, makes them easy to find along the forest edges in Uganda.

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