Primatology in Uganda
Type of course: In person Field Course to be held in Uganda.
Places: The main part of the course will be at the Semliki Chimpanzee Project facilities and Makerere University Biological Field Station in Kibale. In addition, we will visit the national parks of Kibale (with chimpanzee tracking), Queen Elizabeth (with Kazinga channel boat tour) and Bwindi (with mountain gorilla tracking). Finally, we will visit the wildlife rescue centre of Ngamba Island.
Academic Director: Dr. Lara Carrasco Pesquera.
Support: Dr. Kervin D. Hunt, professor of anthropology and director of SCP.
Duration: 12 days, 11 nights.
Start date: 5 August 2019.
End date: 16 August 2019.
Amount: 2800€ (with gorillas and chimpanzees and no flights).
Optional: Volunteering at a wildlife and chimpanzee rescue centre.
The cliché, coined by Churchill, says that Uganda is "the pearl of Africa", and that's a lot to say.
Uganda is really an interesting country for many reasons; it has an impressive diversity in a very small space with a wide range of protected natural spaces in a good network of national parks and with a great variety of wildlife, animal and plant life.
Regarding primates, Uganda is the best place in the world to see gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates, with up to a total of 24 taxa.
For this reason, primate enthusiasts consider it "paradise".
With this theoretical/practical course, you will learn about the biology, ecology and behaviour of primates, we will track and search for wild populations of these fascinating animals and observe their behaviour in the wild.
In addition, we will assess their conservation status in Uganda in particular and in Africa in general, and address issues related to the management and veterinary care of primates "in situ".
Primates are one of the most diverse groups of mammals, almost 500 species have been described, of which two thirds inhabit the African continent. Some of them are genetically very similar to us. However, the impact of human activities on nature causes a great loss of biodiversity. Common threats include habitat degradation, hunting, landscape fragmentation, pollution and overexploitation of resources.
To promote conservation actions, establish strategic plans or any other initiative, it is first necessary to know what you have, how and where it is, that is, it is essential to have prior knowledge of the components of biodiversity, to decide the most appropriate conservation strategies. Conservation is not possible without knowledge.
For this reason, the creation of theoretical-practical training courses is essential in order to get closer to the knowledge of biological diversity and its problems. This course is designed for students, professionals and / or technicians in the fields of biology, veterinary, environmental sciences and the like who want to expand their training or field experience, giving it an approach applied to conservation.
Orientative course syllabus (subject to minor changes and adjustments):
1. Africa, Uganda and their main ecosystems.
2. Order of primates.
3. Introduction to ethology.
4. Ethological methodology.
5. Ecology of primate behaviour.
6. Social behaviours.
7. Sexual behaviour.
8. Cognitive and cultural aspects.
9. Ugandan primates: diversity and biology.
10. Other wildlife species in Uganda.
11. Conservation and current status of Ugandan primates.
The main part of the course will be done in the Semliki Chimpanzee Project. We will spend most of the day doing fieldwork, taking advantage of the central hours of the day and the hours without sunlight for theoretical classes.
As activities in the field are the observation of fauna, the recognition of species and individuals, the observation of behaviours, the identification of traces (beds, excrement, footprints ...).
In addition, we will participate in conservation patrols in which we will see how the rangers work for conservation and we will collaborate in dismantling ties and other illegal hunting arts.
From Semliki we will go for a few days to the Kibale National Park, to the Biological Research Field Station at Makerere University, where the world's highest density of chimpanzees is found and where many studies are carried out on this animal and on the other 13 primate species that live in the forest.
From there we will depart for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, which we will reach after crossing the impressive Queen Isable National Park, where we will also take a boat to tour the spectacular Kazinga Channel.
We will finish the course by spending a day at the Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Ngamba Island, where we will see how they work for the rehabilitation of these animals and the conservation and education projects they carry out from there throughout the country.
Lara Carrasco Pesquera
Kevin D. Hunt
Lara has a degree in veterinary medicine from the Complutense University of Madrid and a doctorate in primate ethology and conservation from the University of Barcelona, with an official master's degree in primatology from the same university. Lara is a member of the Special Centre for Primate Research (CERP). During this academic year, Lara will be the academic director and main lecturer.
Lara has worked with gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates in different national centres such as Rainfer, Fundación Mona and Barcelona Zoo.
Currently, Lara is a professor at the Alfonso X El Sabio University, in Madrid, where she teaches as a Veterinarian and coordinates a research project on primates, carried out at the Zoo in Madrid with the collaboration of that University.
In addition, for the last 4 years, she has been carrying out studies and collaborations with GREFA, an autochthonous fauna hospital in Majadahonda (Madrid), participating in different conservation projects of this entity.
During her doctoral thesis, Lara participated in ecology and conservation projects of howler monkeys in Mexico.
Lara has visited chimpanzee sanctuaries such as the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, the Cabárceno Nature Park (Cantabria) and the Zoo-Aquarium in Madrid.
The results of her research have been published in specialist journals and she frequently gives lectures on ethology, enrichment and animal welfare at congresses, courses and seminars.
Their most recent research activity is materialised through research projects on primates, carried out thanks to the collaboration of the Zoo of Madrid with the University of Alfonso X El Sabio.
Kevin Hunt is a professor and director of the Department of Anthropology and Integral Study of Animal Behaviour at Indiana University, USA.
With an extensive career, in the early 1990s he set up a small research station at the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve in Uganda, where he has since directed the Semliki Chimpanzee Project.
Kevin will be present throughout the course and will host the course in his facilities, giving introductory talks and accompanying us to the field to present the object of his studies: the only population of chimpanzees in Uganda that lives in the intermediate zones between the forest and the savannah.
Lara Carrasco Pesquera
Lara Carrasco Pesquera