By Britta Foulis
Habituation – What Does It Mean?
Habituation can be defined as the process by which an organism decreases, or entirely removes, its responses to a stimulus after repeated or prolonged exposure. In terms of the chimpanzees of Rubondo Island, we are spending a lot of time out in the forest, trekking deep into the overgrowth to find the chimps and then being present with them. By teaching these chimps that we, as humans, do not pose a threat to them, they are slowly but surely learning to trust and accept us. Something we are incredibly proud to have happen!
Meet The Chimps of Rubondo
Many of our guests wonder how the chimps arrived on the island in the first place. Here’s the story of how they were introduced in the passion project of Professor Bernhard Grzimek of the Frankfurt Zoological Society.
The group of 16 chimpanzees who were originally rescued and introduced onto the island were raised in European zoos – their understanding of what a human is was not a good one. Due to the unfortunate circumstances under which these chimps were kept, the last thing they wanted to do was spend time with people. This is why we have spent years rehabilitating the way they see us by showing them that we respect and admire them.
We can now say, with delight, that the habituation process is proving to be successful. Guests are more frequently having the opportunity to spend time with these incredibly interesting and intelligent creatures while staying with us at the island retreat known as Rubondo Island Camp. This is what makes the Habituation Experience so special and something that should be on any nature-lover’s bucket list!
A Vital Change
The introduction of the chimpanzees was not only beneficial for them and their well-being – it actually had a considerably positive impact on the island itself, improving its biodiversity, enhancing its eco-systems, and ultimately cementing its entire existence. By adding the chimps as well as other species such as elephant and the shy sitatunga antelope, the island’s habitats were strengthened and all species began to thrive. All this with thanks to the efforts that were taken to ensure that this unique corner of Africa became a protected and treasured sanctuary, to be enjoyed by only a handful of fortunate – and intrepid – travellers.
Rubondo Island Camp
Rubondo Island Camp is the only lodge on Rubondo Island. This small and exclusive camp consists of just eight waterfront cottages – all built by hand using traditional skills and local materials – that blend seamlessly into the verdant landscape.
Journey with us to Rubondo and spend a few days with us, head out with a ranger, trekking into the forest towards the latest area the chimps had been spotted. When you come across them, you’ll never want to leave – enjoy your time spent with our wonderful chimps, it truly is something to be treasured!