This is Newton -- an adult male in his prime and probable leader of the Wagaisa chimpanzee community.
This beleagured community of about 35 chimps range 15 kilometers to the west of Bulindi. They're under unimaginable pressure. The lush riverine forests within their range have been cut down almost entirely and replaced with farmland and exotic eucalyptus plantations. Their rivers flow like tar having been polluted by a distilling factory. There is scarcely any natural forest remaining, and yet these hardy chimpanzees somehow cling to survival, adapting as best they can to this dynamic human-dominated landscape. Unsurprisingly, the chimpanzees rely heavily on agricultural crops which puts them in competition with local people.
We started monitoring the Wagaisa chimps last year and we're still finding out about them. In parallel, we began small projects to help the local human communities including sustainable woodlots, energy stoves and coffee farming. There's a long way to go and many challenges to overcome, but we're committed to helping Newton and his family survive while at the same time increasing local people's capacity to coexist with their chimpanzee neighbours.
NEWTON seated in an exotic eucalyptus tree. Plantations of eucalyptus, which are ecomonically profitable for local landowners, have replaced most of the natural forest in the home range of the Wagaisa chimpanzees (Photo by Matt McLennan)
NEWTON seated in a farmer's garden in March 2018 (Photo by Matt McLennan)