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Crowdfunder: Helping Ugandan farmers and Bulindi chimpanzees live in harmony

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Campaign: The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project

Chimpanzee populations in Africa are plummeting. As human populations grow rapidly, chimpanzees become squeezed into shrinking forests surrounded by people.

The Bulindi chimpanzees in Uganda are one such group of imperiled great apes trying to survive under desperate conditions.

This 20-strong group are the focus of a long-term study into how wild chimpanzees adjust to living around people. The findings from this research help researchers to plan conservation strategies for great ape populations under human pressure.

But now their survival is under immediate threat.

Local farmers live in poverty and they cut down the forest to plant crops and sell timber. In the past decade, the Bulindi chimpanzees have lost more than 80% of their forest home.

Without urgent intervention the last remaining forest will also soon be lost. If the world letsthat happen, this precious group of great apes will not survive.

The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project offers a solution to this urgent conservation problem. The good news is that villagers want to conserve remaining forests!

They know the many environmental services the forest brings, but give two main reasons for cutting it down. First, they need wood for construction and cooking. Second, they need money for school fees so that their children get a good education. Sadly, the best way for them to raise funds is to sell trees for timber and clear forest to grow cash crops like tobacco.

This 1-year pilot project uses a two-prong approach to tackle this conservation problem head-on:

First, it will provide school tuition fees for children of households with forest remaining on their land, helping them meet one of their main financial expenses. Secondly, tree seedlings will be planted for woodlots in order to meet households’ future wood requirements, helping to relieve pressure on the natural forest.

By reducing conflict between villagers and chimpanzees and restoring harmony between them, the survival prospects for the Bulindi chimpanzees will be enhanced immeasurably.

The campaign’s goal is $30,000 and ends on Jan. 5, 2015.

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