Photo by: Melissa Batson

And how they put a snare in the plan for chimps and humans to live together.

In the Budongo Forests of Uganda, a large group of Chimpanzees, named by researchers The Sonso Group, attempt to thrive in their natural habitat, eating plants and small prey. At the same time, humans who live around the forest are also trying to survive, working at places like the local sugarcane plantation and living in straw and mud houses. For food, they set out into the forest with small snares and aim for duiker and or pig.

Most of these snares are made from wire. As chimpanzees walk through the forest, their hands or feet may become trapped in the snare. In two of the forests where chimpanzees are studied, researchers have observed up to 25 percent of chimpanzees are maimed due to snare injuries. More die.

This problem is typical all over the world. How do the chimps and people live together? How do elephants and people live together? Wolves and people? Mountain Lions and Bay Area people? Though solutions seem impossible at times, I am impressed by many of the solutions, one being that of the Budongo Snare Removal Project.

In January 2000, the Jane Goodall Institute in collaboration with the Budongo Forest Project initiated a snare removal program in the Budongo Forest Reserve. The objective is to reduce the number of snares set, reduce the number of animals caught in snares and traps, and increase the number of local people who obey wildlife laws and understand the need for protecting wildlife.

Teams of two men locate and remove snares. After the first year of operation, they found that the number of snares being set within the grid system of the research area dropped. The census teams found heavy poaching and illegal activities were being carried out in the southern end of the forest reserve, so the team near the research site extended their range.

A new education center reaches out to the local community and provides education around ecology, wildlife and the treasure that is the chimpanzees.

The Oakland Zoo adopted this project in 2001 and the support covers the salaries for four field assistants, two educators, two eco-guards, and allowances for transportation and bike repair, gum boots, rain gear, backpacks, and compasses.

Funds raised at an annual fall lecture and silent auction and on Primate Discovery Day go toward this project.This year’s Primate Day is September 27th and the lecture, featuring Shirley McGreal, is on October 2nd.

The Oakland Zoo also supports connection and awareness of this project by visiting the site in Uganda. Teens will be traveling there in July and adults will embark on the journey (including gorilla trecking) in October.

More spots are available on this once in a lifetime adventure. For details, email:

37.7772 -122.166595

Wire Snares in Africa 3 July,2008Amy Gotliffe


Amy Gotliffe

Amy Gotliffe is Conservation Manager at the Oakland Zoo. She is a Detroit transplant, enjoying the good Bay Area life for 17 years. She has a degree in communications, holds several teaching credentials and has a Masters Degree in Environmental Education. She has worked at various Bay Area educational and environmental institutions, teaching second grade, working on campaigns, planting pollinator gardens, producing earth day events and generally spreading the word about wildlife and green living. She currently works at The Oakland Zoo where she serves as the Conservation Manager. There, she coordinates support for international, national and local conservation efforts, produces a Conservation Speaker Series, produces the zoo's Earth Day event, leads eco-trips, teaches the various educational programs and heads up an on-site Green Team. On her list of other passions are travel, photography, music and the lindy hop. :-)

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