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Dr. Matt McLennan Jan 16, 2023 4:05:59 AM 4 min read

Empowering Local Communities for Chimpanzee Conservation: The Bulindi Story

The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project is not just about saving wild chimpanzees, it's also about empowering local communities in Western Uganda. The project, which began in 2015, takes a holistic approach to conservation, recognizing that the well-being of people and nature are interconnected.


The Bulindi chimpanzees are a community of wild chimpanzees that live in the Hoima and Masindi districts of Western Uganda. The area, which is a corridor linking major chimpanzee populations in two large protected areas (Budongo and Bugoma forests), has strong conservation value. However, the small forests in the area are owned by local village households and have no formal protection. The local people, who live in poverty, cut down forest to plant crops and sell the timber to raise money for their families. Habitat loss has led to escalating levels of conflict between villagers and resident chimpanzees, threatening the survival of this important population of great apes.

Community-based conservation

The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project was established to address this urgent conservation situation, with an immediate goal of halting ongoing deforestation in Bulindi to increase the long-term survival prospects of its resident chimpanzees, and a broader goal of finding a workable template to help conserve the wider population of corridor chimpanzees in unprotected forests regionally, which are equally threatened by human activities.

The project's approach is to support local village households by investing in their children's education via a school sponsorship scheme, and supporting small household projects such as house construction, coffee cash-cropping, providing energy-saving stoves, and seedlings for woodlots. These measures are not only helping to reduce pressure on the remaining natural forest but also helping to improve the livelihoods of the local communities.

Additionally, the project is also implementing a corridor replanting initiative connecting remaining forest along rivers to assist with chimpanzee movement. This helps to reduce human-chimpanzee conflict by increasing the availability of natural foods for the chimpanzees and reducing crop 'raiding' by the apes.

Positive Impact

Since the project's inception in 2015, the chimpanzee community at Bulindi increased from 18 to 22 individuals, and natural forest is beginning to regenerate. Moreover, the project has also had a positive impact on the local communities. The school sponsorship scheme has helped to improve the education of local children, and the small household projects have helped to improve the livelihoods of the local people. Additionally, the project has also constructed three village boreholes providing villagers with access to clean water for the first time.


The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project is an innovative and holistic approach to conservation that not only helps to protect the wild chimpanzees but also empowers the local communities.

Do you want to expand conservation efforts to other nearby sites where  chimpanzees are also threatened by deforestation and human-chimpanzee conflict?  Do you want to increase the population of wild chimpanzees by providing them  with safe and secure habitats? Do you want to improve the education of local  children by providing school sponsorship and other educational resources?  Great! Support us now and make this possible today.