Reflection by: Michael D’Agostino, Onyka Gairey, Elizabeth Pham, Kevin Erratt; Photo taken by Christine Park
Toppling over the thorn laden undergrowth and evading the relentless biting ants, we ventured deeper into the rainforest in search of our closest relatives. Fruiting trees were used as a guide to map out the location of resident chimpanzees and as figs bombarded us from above, we were mesmerized by these human-like creatures gorging themselves on the plethora of figs. The chimpanzees were not fazed by our presence and walked among us like equals. This close proximity and the existence would not be imaginable without ecotourism. Ecotourism has safeguarded this wealth of biodiversity and has created a community that values their natural environment. Uganda’s success in preserving its wildlife is largely due to giving back to the people surrounding its parks. A quarter of the revenue generated from this flourishing industry is returned back to the community to prevent them from exploiting their last remaining wildlife sanctuaries. Uganda serves as a leading example to other nations, who struggle to balance the fine line between satisfying human and environmental needs.