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MUBFS: Mak’s World-renown Tropical Biology gem

  • In Sciences
  • 13 Aug 2010 - 11:16am
  • By Anonymous (not verified)
  • 38,189
The Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) is located in the tranquil Kibale Forest at the peripherals of Kibale National Park (KNP). Established in 1970 as Kibale Forest Project-KFP by Dr. Thomas Struhsaker, a renown primatologist and scholar from Duke University, USA, the project was handed over to Makerere University for its long-time survival by Dr. Struhsaker, shortly before his departure in 1987.

The Lower camp at MUBFS-KanyawaraToday, MUBFS, which falls under the Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (MUIENR) is a year-round field research station accommodating up to 85 researchers and trainees and upholding the objectives of Research, Education and Conservation which KFP set out to achieve. MUBFS has two main study sites – Kanyawara and Ngogo, with Kanyawara housing the station’s main facilities.

On Thursday 29th July 2010, the Makerere University Management visited MUBFS’ Kanyawara site, and could not help but marvel at the high-quality research being conducted at this world renown field station. The on-going research projects conducted by local and international scholars include:

  • Ecological & Behavioral Studies of Various Animal Species in KNP.
  • Studies of Forest Regeneration in Logged & Formerly Encroached Areas.
  • Long-term Ecological Monitoring of Kibale National Park Eco-Systems.
  • Socio-Economic & Ecological Studies Including Crop Raiding By Park Wildlife.

Dr. Jeremiah Lwanga, Acting Deputy Director MUBFS, appreciated the Management team for visiting Dr. Clive Nuttman, Cambridge & TBAMUBFS and proceeded to give them a guided tour of the station, which included: A state-of-the-art Tropical Biology Laboratory; Eco-friendly water supply and waste disposal systems; Lodging facilities for over 85 visitors and 20 staff and Forest Ecology research labs.

“I always say to my students that Uganda is my favorite course destination and MUBFS is my favorite field station” remarked Dr Clive Nuttman of Cambridge University and the Tropical Biology Association-TBA, UK, which has conducted field training for over 400 students at MUBFS since 1994. “The team here at MUBFS ensures that our courses are extremely well facilitated, which really does make life easy for me as a course coordinator to run programs here. MUBFS has one of the best Tropical Biology research labs in the world” he further added.

To date, over 260 research papers and book chapters have been published from research conducted at MUBFS. Each year, Professors Collin and Lauren Chapman from McGill University, Canada publish a compilation of the research done at MUBFS. All these annual compilations as well as books written by MUBFS researchers make up the rich Library collection at the Field Station.
Patrick Omeja, Manager Fish & Monkey Project
MUBFS has indeed played host to a number of long-term research projects such as the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, which has been conducted by Harvard University Professor Richard Wrangham since 1987. Prof. Wrangham has been instrumental in supervising students at MUBFS as well as Harvard, who conduct their research at the Field Station every year. As a result some of MUBFS' former students have gone on to start their own projects. The Kibale EcoHealth Project-KEP is one example started up by Tony L. Goldberg (PhD)


Similarly, Patrick Omeja (PhD) is currently managing the Fish and Monkey project started up by Professors Collin and Lauren Chapman from McGill University. This project monitors the performance of Blue lips, a fish species indigenous to the forest river systems in KNP. They are the best bio-indicators of the oxygen content in the water hence a good measure of the effects of human activities on the ecology of the catchment areas surrounding KNP. The Monkey phase monitors the levels of stress experienced by primates as a result food availability or lack thereof, which is also a good indicator of human encroachment on their habitats. The stress levels are monitored by measuring the variations of some components in monkey excretions collected from the forest by the research teams.

Dr. Lwanga (C) shows the Management team around MUBFSAt the study site in Ngogo, 10Kms Southeast of Kanyawara, Professors David Watts, Yale University and John Mitani, University of Michigan, have published several papers as a result of their research since 1995. The research studies an extraordinarily large group of 140 chimpanzees for activities like: kinship and male social behaviour, hunting and meat eating and territoriality and lethal aggression.

MUBFS has done a lot for public education in terms of generating information that is necessary for making decisions on efforts aimed at forest environment conservation” remarked Dr. Lwanga as he made his speech.

The local communities have also benefited from teams that have visited MUBFS “We have the American Friends of Kasiisi Primary School-AFROKAPS, who have helped build classrooms, staff houses, toilets and lots of other infrastructure.
“Another offshoot has been the Kanyanchu Tourism Center-KTC in Kamwenge District, which was built as a result of a need to cater for tourism activities, fanned up by information about chimpanzees and forest ecology. This information, which helped shape the formation of KTC was generated by the various research publications from MUBFS” added Dr. Lwanga. MUBFS has also helped form other Non-Governmental Organizations like the Kibale Association for Rural and Economic Development-KAFRED.

“We want Makerere University to stand to its true stature as a National University by having its presence felt throughout the country. From our observations and comments by the visiting Professors, MUBFS is indeed the best Tropical Biology research center in the world” remarked the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba. “We would like to thank the MUBFS Management for the warm reception and great job done so far” he continued. The Vice-Chancellor concluded his remarks by pledging the University Management’s commitment and support to MUBFS’ welfare and future plans respectively.

MUBFS staff with the Management team at the end of the tour


Dr. Jeremiah S. Lwanga's remarks





mwamai@admin.mak.ac.ug, Public Relations Office

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