Ugandan chimpanzees are their own movie stars in a Netflix series called Chimp Empire, narrated by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali and directed by another Academy Award winner, James. The documentary series was shot in Uganda’s largest chimpanzee capital Kibaale National Park and it’s currently ranked the most popular show under the ‘Family friendly’ category in the USA.
“Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. We can often recognize the best and worst of ourselves in them. Chimp society is a hierarchy; each chimp is always looking for opportunities to move up. Everyone is inclining, persuading, and climbing. When one Chimp group meets another, there is no going back, war is coming, the Chimpanzee life is a never ending life conflict. When you live in the jungle, you fight to survive, and if you want power, you must take it. A vast community of chimpanzees thrives in a forest in Uganda, navigating complex social politics, family dynamics, and dangerous territory disputes,” Mahershala narrated in the Trailer.
The series, which was released on April 19th 2023, was shot in Uganda in 2021 over a period of 18 months, an opportunity for Uganda to remind the world that it is the primate capital of the world, according to Hon.Bahinduka Mugarra Martin, the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities.
“Chimp Empire presents an opportunity for Uganda to remind the world that it is the primate capital of the world as a marketing asset, which Uganda’s tourism industry could use,” Mugarra stated on his social media.
Kibaale National Park, located in western Uganda, is most prominent for primates, with a chimpanzee population of about 1,500 individuals, divided into at least a dozen different communities, four of which are habituated to humans and have been subjected to daily tourist tracking since 1993. Other well-known national parks with chimpanzees are Bwindi National Park, which consists of the common chimpanzee species (Pan Troglodyte’s schweinfurthii), and they account for over 400 individuals out of the 5050 chimpanzees in Uganda.