In the beginning of 2014 personnel trained by the chimpanzee mogul Frankfurt Zoological Society in DRC embarked on a journey to habituated chimpanzees living in the forest of Virunga national park more so in the areas of Rumangabo. All guests at Mikeno lodge are free to join the team every day for free.
The local guides leave for the forest at 4.30am to locate the chimps while the other guest start tracking at 6.00am. Each chimpanzee group is limited to four people and just like the gorillas time spent with the chimps is limited to one hour. Booking for a chimp habituation experience is only done at mikeno lodge.
The History Behind Habituating Virunga’s Chimpanzees
Around the year 1987, an 80km trail was created in Tongo forest by Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and begun with a two year activity of habituating these chimpanzee from the wild and make them used to seeing people on a daily basis. Around 1989, more than 50 chimpanzees had been habituated and so the trekking begun.
Just after three years there was civil unrest in the area which put an end to chimpanzee tourism between 1992 and 2001.
It was not until 2010 that the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) together with the local community re-launched the process and the trekking begun by June of that same year though on a small basis.
In April 2012, hostilities erupted yet again and chimpanzee trekking had to be halted. The M23 rebellion, as the conflict was known, eventually ended in January 2014.
The Tongo team still visits this population of chimpanzees on a daily basis. The group now consists of 32 individuals.
If you don’t feel well at the time of your scheduled walk (i.e. you have a cold, fever, diarrhea, or persistent sore throat) – please cancel. Like the gorillas, chimpanzees are extremely susceptible to human illnesses.
Chimpanzees have died after being exposed to human respiratory viruses and other common ailments.