The theory of man having evolved from apes appeared real at the weekend when chimpanzees at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary embraced their human keepers to the awe of tourists. (Source: Martin Ssebuyira)


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The chimpanzees pressed pimples on their keepers' faces, further cementing the keepers' belief that the animals have a 98.7 per cent DNA similarity with human beings. "They love grooming and being groomed but squeezing pimples on my face is a new initiative that we want to investigate further," Mr Stany Nyandwi, the assistant manager Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, said.

The new chimpanzee character was exhibited at a function in which Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries(GFAS), a body set up to strengthen and support the work of animal sanctuaries worldwide, offered an award to Mr Nyandwi for his great courage, extreme self-sacrifice and exceptional determination to help needy animals.


The organisation also offered Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservational Trust that looks after chimpanzees at Ngamba, a prize of $5,000 (about Shs12m) for their best practices in looking after these endangered species.


Ms Patty Finch, the GFAS executive director, credited Mr Nyandwi for exhibiting extra skills. She said Mr Nyandwi began as a cook at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Project and because of the poor condition of the many rescued chimps, he was promoted to a caregiver and developed a specialty in reviving young chimpanzees, a thing that has seen him rise through the ranks.

Ms Finch said Mr Nyandwi has helped train several caretakers and wild animal veterinary doctors from different parts of the world. However, US embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Blaser feared that with 24 per cent of Ugandans living in poverty, chimpanzees could decrease.


The fear

"If the poverty trends continue this way, world's chimp population could decline as much as 80 per cent in the next years because people would sell them as pets," she said. Ms Lilly Ajarova of the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, said they have rescued 44 chimpanzees since the establishment of the sanctuary in 1998.

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