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Communities in Bugandikire Village, Busaru Parish in Bundibugyo District in a surprise move recently handed over a baby chimpanzee to the police after allegedly finding it stranded in a stream. The female baby chimpanzee, which was estimated to be just about three months old, is suspected to have been orphaned after the communities ate its mother.
According to the Monitoring and Research Warden in Semliki National Park, Richard Muhebwa, it is very rare to find a baby chimpanzee separated from its mother, which means that the communities may have first killed and eaten the mother before deciding to hand over the baby to the area police. He observed that many people in Bundibugyo District like to feast on chimpanzee meat.
Bundibugyo District has many forest fragments after large chunks of forests were destroyed to pave way for cultivation and construction of homes. The baby chimpanzee was transferred to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), which usually helps to restore the health of stressed wild animals.

Like humans, chimpanzees entirely depend on their mothers after birth for food, protection and warmth. The baby chimpanzee was transported in a box and cushioned with several clothes in order to keep it warm. The staff in Semliki National Park said they fed the baby water and the big bananas during the journey to UWEC.
The Veterinary Doctor at UWEC, Dr. Julius Kasigwa, said the baby chimpanzee was extremely dehydrated and constipated when she arrived and she could not hang her neck due to weakness. Her skin was also loose and she was very dirty.
Dr. Kasigwa said the baby is now learning to suckle her milk bottle and has even gained some weight. He said they will carry out a health check on the baby in two weeks' time to determine whether it has fully recovered from the trauma of being separated from its mother.
After it has fully recovered, the baby will either be taken to Ngamba Island or kept at UWEC. Being returned to the wild is out of the question because she lacks the social chimpanzee behavior, has no survival skills, and cannot get integrated among the wild families.

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