The challenges of 2020 were not just limited to COVID-19 at Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda. The catastrophe of climate change came to their shores in the form of rising lake levels and uncontrollable flooding. Water levels shot up in 2020 and destroyed infrastructure, piers and eroded the delicate shoreline of the 100 acre island.
Ngamba is home to 50 rescued chimpanzees from cruelty situations around the world. These poor Great Apes have lived in circuses, traveling zoos, private homes, prison-like conditions and much worse. They are cared for at Ngamba Island by a team of expert primatologists and keepers and live freely in 99 acres of forest. The natural boundary of the lake keeps them on the island and they can roam free at night, making nests in the trees as they would in the wild, or come in to the safe, caged area of the island where they are offered broth before bed.
Children of Conservation has partnered with Ngamba Island to support their conservation work, community outreach and support for a decade and we knew we had to help when we heard the island was damaged. Board members Kerry and Mike traveled to Uganda this January to assist in the construction of ‘gabions’ in the water to protect the shoreline and prevent further damage. Below, you can see them working on the gabions in Lake Victoria with Ngamba Island staff.
This is Children of Conservation’s first project to address the devastating effects of a natural disaster due to climate change. At its peak, Ngamba Island only rises 19 feet above the lake’s edge. Although it’s the second largest freshwater lake in the world, Victoria’s water level has risen a record 5 feet in the past year, claiming 30% of Ngamba Island’s shoreline.
Board member, Mike, says: “For much of the day, we’re working in chest high water, first positioning the gabions to assure they’re level and secure from the possible undertow. “
CofC founder, Kerry, says: “With each rock delivery, we line up in our human chain to transport the rocks one by one from the shore to the 4 guys at the gabion cages who carefully position the stones in the baskets. Every 10 to 15 the “gabion guys” disappear beneath the water’s surface to install cross-wires, which have to be done every 8 inches to stabilize and secure the sides from buckling. Mike & I revel in the securing of the crossties as it allows our 55 year old backs to rest for a bit.”
We are so proud of you, Kerry & Mike!