The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Mr. Piriye Kiyaramo has called on tour operators to explore the potential of Chimpanzee Trekking Tour Packages that abound in the Edumenum National, adding that the chimpanzees that are found in the park offer wildlife tour operators opportunity to develop Chimpanzee tourism packages for adventure tourists.
Mr. Kiyaramo who made the call while exchanging views with newsmen at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre Ekeki, Yenagoa, at the weekend, maintained that the Edumenum National Park and Apoi Creek National Park located in Nembe/Ogbia and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas respectively, could provide employment opportunities for youths from the park adjacent communities as rangers, animal trackers and tour guides.
According to the governor’s aide, such special niche tourism packages within the parks would go a long way to create awareness to protect wildlife in the newly approved Edumenum National Park, covering about 86.76 km2 which extends to parts of Nembe/Ogbia Local Government Areas, saying that gorilla/chimpanzee tourism packages also would provide alternative income for the park adjacent communities.
Mr. Kiyaramo said the former state reserves that are now designated as national parks, which could have been otherwise used by the locals for agriculture, fetching of housing materials, firewood, and medicinal plants and hunting of wildlife, including poaching of the chimpanzees for meat have potentials of generating alternative incomes for the locals.
He recalled that in 2008, chimpanzee and gorilla tourism in Uganda accounted for 52% of tourism revenue in that country, adding that the same way chimpanzee tourism at the Edumenum National Park can also serve as an important source of funding for conservation budgets, informing that gorilla/chimpanzee tourism can become the principal internal source of foreign exchange, if properly planned and managed.
Mr. Kiyaramo further explained that in addition to procurement of fruits and vegetables for the hospitality sector, direct income from joint ventures, including cultural tourism excursions, shopping, crafts and donations among other benefits will accrue to people of the park adjacent communities.
It will be recalled that the intelligence and social structure of chimpanzees make them fascinating subjects for observation and tourism. Chimpanzees live in communities ranging from 20 to 150 individuals. Like humans, they tend to have strong personalities.
Their expressive faces make their identities easily recognized even during a short visit. Lucky visitors will be able to hear their pant-hooting, a communal, loud calling session that can be triggered by anything that excites chimpanzees, including humans.