Friday, November 15, 2013

What is Gombe Stream National Park

Gombe Stream National Park is a small (52 square kilometers) nature reserve on a thin forest strip in western Tanzania. It was established in 1968. The landscape of the park includes valleys, and the forest ranges from grassland to sparse forest to thick rainforest. There are also a lot of water systems, including rivers and the famous Lake Tanganyika. The park is about 25 kilometers from the city of Kigoma which you can reach from Dar or Arusha by flying, from Dar or Mwanza by train, from Mwanza, Dar and Mbeya by roads and from Mpulungu by ferry. From Kigoma you can reach Gombe by taxi or by boat.

The most well known animal in the park are the chimpanzees, but there is a vast diversity of other monkeys as well, including red-tailed and red colobus, vervet monkeys an baboons. Also many other animals typical to this kind of environment can be seen in Gombe, including leopards, bushpigs, snakes, hippopotamus and over 200 different species of birds.

Gombe was made famous by the groundbreaking chimpanzee research made by Jane Goodall. Also the location where Henry Stanley famously found David Livingstone in 1871 with the famous “Dr Livingstone I presume” is located close by at Ujiji near Kigoma. Gombe is a very popular tourist attraction. Things to do include trekking, hiking, swimming and snorkeling. The best time to see the famous chimpanzees is during the wet season (February-June and November-mid December). It can however be quite expensive to visit to park. In addition to the cost of getting there you are typically looking at costs including a $100 per person entry fee, $10 guide fee per group, $10 tip for guide, about $40 for food and $20 for accommodation per person.
As in many natural reserves in Africa the wildlife of the park is under a threat by human activity and wildlife populations are diminishing. Lands occupied by locals often hinder animals from traveling between protected grounds. Locals often live in quite poor conditions and hunt wildlife for food, to protect their crops or for safety reasons.

Jane Goodalls famous research began in 1960. She established a research station in Gombe where she spent months tracking and observing the chimpanzees. She was very interested in behavior, emotions and personality of her subjects and bonds between the chimpanzees. She also made the groundbreaking finding that chimpanzees use tools when hunting termites out of their nests. She also observed very aggressive behavior from the chimpanzees, including hunting and killing other monkeys and violence inside groups of chipamzees.