Friday, January 18, 2008

January 15, 2008

After a few days of business in Kedougou, I went back out to follow the chimps again. I didn’t find them until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, after about 6-7 hours of walking! They were at a spot in the Fongoli stream where there has been a little water in past years. Otherwise the stream is virtually dry at this time of year, even though it is still early dry season. In fact, I was just standing there taking a GPS point when I heard something in the bamboo on the bank. It turned out to be Bilbo, munching on some bamboo pith, about 5 meters from me! I followed him, K.L., and Lupin (2 other adult males) and Bo (an adolescent male whose aged mother, Wilema, disappeared a few years ago) until around 4pm, when I saw that Tumbo (a young female, of National Geographic “spear hunting” fame) and probably some other chimps had joined them. Then, at the end of the day, there must have been another fusion event – there was a lot of excitement, as if a high-ranking male had turned up. There were a number of chases and fights that took the party in a large semi-circle of about a kilometer. By the time they went to bed at 7pm, it was dark, and Fiona (the PhD student from Cambridge studying nesting) could only see one individual actually build their nest. At least they are only a 45-minute walk from camp tomorrow morning, which means leaving at 5:30 (that’s late!)!!

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