|History of Rubondo Island
Rubondo Island became a game reserve in 1965 and then a national park in 1977. From 1966 to 1969, Professor Bernhard Grzimek of the Frankfurt Zoological Society released 16 chimpanzees in four cohorts onto the island. The chimpanzees were all originally wild-born and of West African descent but had been rescued from various European zoos and circuses. The chimpanzees had spent varying periods, from 3.5 months to 9 years, in captivity before being set free on Rubondo Island. This was the first-ever attempt to rehabilitate captive chimpanzees. The chimps had no rehabilitation or pre-release training but after one year on Rubondo, they were able to find and eat wild foods and construct sleeping nests. The population has now grown to over 60 individuals.
Several other species such as roan antelope, rhino, elephant and giraffe were also introduced on the island. Sadly, the rhino were poached, but today, hundreds of species flourish here; they have adapted to the forest and continue to live in harmony.