Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lazy chimps


Yesterday we didnt have to walk a long way to get to the chimps. They were about half an hour away from camp. While usually they would stir from their nests around 6.30 or so, they didnt do so this time. We had a long nap before anything happened at about 7.30 when some of the animals moved off in search of breakfast.

It didn't take them long to find some food. After less than 5 mins of walking on the ground the party which we un-nested arrived at a large Pseudospondias tree, which was loaded with fruit. Most of it wasn't ripe yet but there was enough purple drupes in the canopy to keep the chimpanzees chomping away for a good hour or so.

The tree was so large that according to our field assistants there were some 26 individuals above our heads. Most of the time they would be feeding, sometimes breaking off small branches with a load of fruit on them, then pick off the several ripe ones and chuck the rest of the green fruit down to the ground. Which apart from presenting us with the possibility of mild head injuries, was also a rather wasteful way to harvest the fruiting trees.

The week before the congress, Kilimi was the female getting all the attention - she was fully swollen then and all the males were keen to cop off with her. Now, though, Kilimi's swelling was notably losing its appeal. Even to my eyes it appeared a bit past its prime - the skin was not as taught as it used to be and it has also lost some of its shine.

It was Wangari (small eyes, big ears, a bit dopy look) who was the centre of attention for all the ever-horny males on this day. Even one of the juveniles managed to copulate with her and then several adults took their turn as well. And that was even before they went up the Pseudospondias tree for breakfast.


After some eating in the canopy, most of the chimps descended to the ground. They layed down, some of them scratching, some of them snoozing, some of them playing with infants. And that was it. They didnt move from that spot until about noon. Which gave me and Kyleb- another graduate student here - enough time to have a bit of catch-up sleep, too.

Tomorrow am going out again to the forest and may be another blog update will come later in the week or next week.