Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Today marks the 6th month "anniversary" of the last sighting of aged male Ross in the Fongoli community. He was last seen December 10, 2007 and was apparently in good health, although he was a very old male, based on his reduced body mass (even over the course of the 5 years we've known him - you can see this in the first photo of Ross in National Geographic, where he is crossing a plateau, with short trees in the background), his poor hearing and sight, and the fact that he only had three teeth left (one anterior or front lower incisor and two lower molars).
Ross appeared in two photos in the April 2008 issue of National Geographic, and the last photo, taken by Frans Lanting, in the article by Mary Roach shows a close-up of Ross drinking at Sakoto pool. It is a beautiful photo of Ross, and he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. Normally, after not seeing a chimp for three months, they are recorded as being "absent" from the community. Unless the individuals are young females, who may migrate to other communities, the missing chimps are presumed deceased. I gave Ross another three months because most of us do not want to accept that he is no longer here. Ross normally spent much of his time during the dry season at the water source in Djendji, but he also joined the rest of the community once there was a rain or two so that the party was able to move farther afield of Djendji.
I think we will always keep Ross in mind - I still find myself hoping that I see him when I see some chimp that has pigment on their face - before I see who it is clearly. Ross was the first chimp that we recognized in the Fongoli community, and with his tolerance, we were able to continue the project and learn about these amazing chimpanzees. The photo here was taken by Stacy Lindshield during the last months that Ross was with us.