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Kibale National Park

New Nature Foundation

A Hotbed of Biodiversity

At the intersection of East and Central Africa, Uganda’s Kibale National Park is a hotbed of biodiversity, home to chimpanzees, elephant, antelope, 350+ bird species, and so much more. Michael Stern, the Zoo’s Andrew J. Baker Curator of Primates and Small Mammals, along with his wife, former Zoo staff member Rebecca Goldstone, first traveled to Kibale in 2000 to study the leaping habits of monkeys. With Philadelphia Zoo support, they’ve been working to improve the people-park relationship ever since.

Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park

Forming the New Nature Foundation

In 2006, Michael and Rebecca began the Kibale Fuel Wood Project in Uganda, an effort to combat the destruction of forests due to the need for firewood. The project promotes fast-growing native trees, the building of efficient stoves made from mud and bricks, and the use of charcoal briquettes made from waste instead of trees. These initiatives, paired with extensive education campaigns, would begin to help improve the community’s relationship with nature. They soon formed the New Nature Foundation (NNF), a nonprofit organization benefitting citizens and wildlife through grass roots initiatives that reflect the local culture and encourage continued community involvement.

About the New Nature Foundation

Collaboration and knowledge sharing are integral to achieving New Nature Foundation’s conservation goals. Cultural practices, history, tradition, and taboos help mold the objectives and designs of all aspects of programming. In Uganda, NNF works mostly with members of the Batooro and Bakiga tribes, both from the Bantu ethnic group. The projects promote fast-growing native trees, the building of efficient stoves made from mud, and the use of charcoal briquettes made from waste instead of trees. These initiatives, paired with extensive education campaigns and joyful celebrations of nature, empower local citizens to make positive changes in their own lives that also benefit wildlife.

Inspired by great success in Uganda, in 2014 NNF started partnering with Tay, Dao, and Hmong people in Northern Vietnam to implement a similar plan to protect Khau Ca Forest and the world’s last Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys from the same threats facing Kibale. Today, Uganda is home to the world’s 6th fastest growing human population alongside the densest population of primates on earth; Vietnam has one of the densest human populations and several of the most critically endangered species. There is a true need for sustained efforts that create greater harmony between people and nature.

With continued support from the Zoo and other generous donors, NNF’s teams have made tremendous strides: over 2.7 million cooking briquettes produced, nearly 5,000 efficient stoves built, close to 500,000 logged interactions with local citizens since 2006, and over 20 million pounds of wood (that would otherwise come from natural forests) saved annually. Because of an unwavering commitment from Philadelphia Zoo and others, NNF can continue to make a positive difference for people, wildlife and wild places.

The zoo is home to many species that NNF works to protect, including: African Millipede; Black & White Colobus; Gaboon Viper; Great Blue Turaco; Lion; and White Stork.

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