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Chimpanzee power struggle

It’s been 6 months since the community on Ngamba Island lost their leader, Mika. This left a vacuum that has to be filled. Therefore through this time we have witnessed a series of changes in the group. We now bring you the top contenders for the position and their tactics 


Eddy at one time led the group before Mika overthrow him. He now wanted to have a comeback. This has not been welcomed by the other adults. He has counteracted the rejection by forming an alliance with Maisko but it has turned out to be a wrong move as the latter is weak.

Kisembo showed interest for the top position from the beginning.  He is so determined, strong and clearly shows intentions. However his alliance with the big males is still not good. Whenever he tries to display he is checked by Maisko. This, and the fact that he is not rallying for support from other chimpanzees puts him at a lesser advantage over others.




Kalema was excited about the opportunity of taking charge in the first few days. However, he is still failing to get that command. He displays around and also has the support of a number of chimps but he gets distracted by his love for food. Feeding time comes with an opportunity to display and take charge but Kalema most of the time cares less on calming the chimps and instead draws his attention to collecting food. Nonetheless, he is generally respected by the group and often gets submission calls when he is in vicinity.

Umutama on the other hand is at a higher advantage because he has a good relationship with high ranking chimps such as Eddie, Tumbo, Robbie and Maisko. When he displays he gains more respect. We have also noted that when he is displaying, the other low ranking chimpanzees get out of his way and no one dares to challenge him. Recently he has shown a lot of dominance.




achievements 2-1

Stany Nyandwi wins International Award

Stany Nyandwi

Stany Nyandwi, has  won two awards in a row this year, the Carole Noon Award for Animal Sanctuary Excellence for his commitment and courage in caring for rescued orphaned chimpanzees and the siddle Madsen award by PASA.

In his own words Stany had this to say while receiving the latest award on the 12th December 2011, “My heart is with the chimps, I care for them like my own children. People are killing chimps in the forest, the babies are suffering. They need us to take care of them. If not, perhaps they will end up like the rhino in Uganda – gone, extinct and now we are paying a great deal to bring them back.”

Stany bonds with one of the chimpanzees at Ngamba Island

Stany bonds with one of the chimpanzees at Ngamba Island

His career began as a housekeeper/cook at the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) chimpanzee project in Burundi in 1989. So many confiscated orphan chimpanzees were arriving and in such poor condition that Nyandwi was quickly converted from a cook to a chimpanzee caregiver. He had a particular affinity and connection with the youngest – and often most damaged – chimpanzees, and he quickly developed a specialty in reviving those closest to death.”

Burundi in the mid-1990s was a volatile and dangerous place. Nyandwi and his colleagues had to walk more than six miles each day to get to work by 6am, each morning starting in the dark and walking home way after sunset each evening.  In 1994, two staff members were killed on a walk home. They were attacked and murdered yet Nyandwi almost always arrived early for work and stayed late.

By the end of 1995, the JGI made plans to relocate all 20 chimpanzees to the newly created Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya.   Nyandwi, was taken to Sweetwaters to look after the chimpanzees in their new home.  For six weeks, Nyandwi was left alone in Kenya to care for the 10 infants. Away from his family and his countrymen, Nyandwi thought of nothing but the chimpanzees, sometimes walking five kilometers to buy food and medical supplies for the infants with his own salary.

Today, Nyandwi is the Assistant Sanctuary Manager/ Head Caregiver for Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  “His main role is the welfare of the chimpanzees in his care, and the trainer of all the animal caregivers and veterinarians not only on Ngamba but also those from other sanctuaries who come on staff exchange program to Ngamba,” says CSWCT Executive Director, Lilly Ajarova.

CSWCT team,GFAS Executive Director Patty Finch,State Minister for Tourism Hon.E.Kamuntu and Deputy Chief of US Mission in Uganda and other deligates pose for a photograph at the award giving ceremony at Ngamba island.

CSWCT team,GFAS Executive Director Patty Finch,State Minister for Tourism Hon.E.Kamuntu, Deputy Chief of US Mission in Uganda and other deligates pose for a photograph at the award giving ceremony at Ngamba island.

“Everyone who has received this award has demonstrated great courage, extreme self-sacrifice, and exceptional determination to help animals in need, and Stany Nyandwi is no exception” says GFAS Executive Director, Patty Finch during the award giving ceremony.

As staff of Ngamba Island we are proud of Stany and thank him for all the devotion he has given to the conservation of the chimpanzees.

Nakku injures her arm

One of our juvenile female chimps Nakku fractured her arm. After a few days she was in the holding facility, she was transferred to   the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) formerly the zoo, where she is in quarantine.  After a week with the cast, a bone plate was inserted into the arm to help with the re-alignment of the bone.

Nakku resting in the holding facility

Nakku resting in the holding facility

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