Tourism: Research conducted at MUBFS, especially on primates was initially seen as purely academic and of limited application in the real world. However, it must be highlighted here that the Tourism Industry has benefited a lot from this research. The Kanyanchu Tourism Center, in Kibale National Park, near Bigodi Parish, in Kamwenge District was the brainchild of research at MUBFS.
During the mid-1980s, people, mostly from Europe and USA who learnt about Kibale Forest through research publications, started frequenting Kanyawara research camp to have a tourism experience. Much as the researchers were hospitable to them, it was found to be inconveniencing to have tourism and research activities at the same site. The researchers looked for an accessible and convenient site in the south-east of Kibale, and this was the beginning of Kanyanchu Tourism Center.
Additionally, the main tourism attraction at the time (which still is) was the primates. Therefore, the scientific information about primates led to the development of tourism at Kanyanchu. The techniques of habituating primates were already in place and tour guides were equipped with information about most primate species in the forest; this adds flavor to the tourism experience. Kanyanchu is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the country today; contributing to the national budget, in addition to offering employment opportunities to the local, national and international communities.
Over the years, more and more cinematographers are frequenting Kibale National Park, especially the Kanyawara and Ngogo Study Sites to film the Chimpanzee community there. The Ngogo Chimpanzees are famous for their efficiency in hunting. Cinematographers base their movies and documentaries on scientific information published by researchers. In addition to paying Government institutions and the local participants, cinematographers also advertise Kibale National Park to the rest of the world and this stimulates tourism further.
In addition to Kanyanchu, MUBFS also helped to establish Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) in Bigodi Parish, Kamwenge District. This local NGO uses eco-tourism as a tool to promote conservation and enhance community development in the area. KAFRED has attained international recognition and employs a large number of people and thus contributes to alleviating poverty, promoting education and stimulating development in the area.
Conservation: In addition to generating information that is useful in conservation, MUBFS works hand in hand with UWA authorities to promote conservation in and around Kibale National Park. It is now established that the presence of researchers in conservation areas helps to deter would-be poachers.
MUBFS researchers cover large areas of the forest in the course of doing their work and report illegal activities to the relevant authorities. Additionally, we hope that a recently concluded study on the impacts of illegal hunting activities on chimpanzee conservation by Ms. Dylys Ndibaisa will provide useful information to conservation managers.
Under the Kibale and Ngogo Chimpanzee projects, a snare removal program has been developed. In collaboration with UWA, a snare removal team and UWA rangers organize patrols which are intended to remove already set snares and counter other illegal activities.
UWA and Budongo Forest Field Station have come up with a program to have a resident veterinary officer based at MUBFS. This will be important in responding to emergencies than waiting for experts from far.
Services to the Communities: From the very beginning, the Kibale Forest Project and later MUBFS have worked with the local communities in the areas of conservation and education. In the field of education, there have been several spin-offs of MUBFS that have helped foster education in the vicinity of Kibale National Park. The most notable of these is the Kibale Forest Schools Program. This organization has helped build classrooms, staff houses, toilets etc in a few selected primary schools around Kibale National Park. Additionally, they help to fund well-performing and needy students in secondary schools and tertiary institutions. So far over, 30 local Ugandans from the communities surrounding Kibale National Park have completed their studies with certificates, diplomas and degrees. The main aim is to train them to become self reliant and reduce dependence on park resources for survival.
Apart from the contributions made by the above NGO, MUBFS has made direct contributions to community projects in form of building materials, sanitary pads, twin desks to primary schools, and annually contributes Ug Shs 200,000/= for hosting Earth day by KAFRED/UNITE in Bigodi- Kamwenge.
Health Services: Another notable contribution by MUBFS to the local community is the Kibale Health and Conservation Centre (KHCC). This health centre was officially opened in February 2009. MUBFS management is greatly indebted to Professors Colin and Lauren Chapman, Fish and Monkey Field Manager and their trainees from McGill University, Canada for this great donation to the community. KHCC provides primary health care and health education to the community.
The health centre is manned by two nurses supervised by a doctor from Fort Portal Referral Hospital. This service has gone a long way in improving people’s health.