… WHERE CHARLOTTE THIS WEEK HAD TEA WITH CHIMPANZEES
(Posted 07th August 2020)
In the seventh of a series, Charlotte Beauvoisin shares some of her #LockdownDiaries from Kibale Forest in Western Uganda.
In last week’s story, Charlotte told us how bees are used as a deterrent to reduce crop raiding by Kibale Forest’s elephants. What she didn’t mention was that some of the beehives had been damaged – by chimps! No doubt the chimps were looking for honey…
Today has been the hottest day for weeks and an exciting one too. Early morning sunshine drew my eye to the top of the fig tree where an excited group of chimpanzees announced that the figs are ripe!
We’ve been aware of the chimps’ presence for a few days. Their raucous noise is generally a sign that something edible is maturing and today was the day when they went crazy with excitement, signalling to the others that the fruits were ready to eat.
“It’s great to hear the chimpanzees so happy!” Julia said. She is quick to tell their mood.
At one point I counted twelve chimpanzees. It was impossible to ignore them. I imagined there must be more hidden on the far side of the tree. Mzee Silver laughed. “There were definitely more than that!” Silver Kyamukama is one of Uganda’s most experienced primatologists. He was part of the team that habituated Kibale Forest’s chimpanzees for tourism after renouncing his life as a poacher to become a ranger with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a career that lasted over 20 years. Silver’s knowledge of the forest and its creatures is unmatched. He is a walking encyclopaedia.
I didn’t have to go far to see the chimps, just as far as the kettle in fact. I sat on my balcony, with my teapot and my tripod and enjoyed my window straight into the forest. During lockdown, we have watched the Ficus mucuso shed its leaves; the branches were not bare for long before green buds appeared. The cycle of nature holds me spellbound.
The tree’s boughs are laden with ripening fruit. Each chimpanzee has a section of the tree to themselves. There is no need to squabble, it’s a bountiful harvest with plenty for all. The morning quickly passed as I sat watching nature’s TV, laughing out loud at the antics in front of me and thanking my lucky stars for these special moments.
It was a joy to have a few hours just enjoying the forest. We had a problem with the solar power so everything went off today, including our new Internet system. This was a sign I should just enjoy nature’s display. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow…
If you enjoyed this story, look out for the next one in this series, exclusively here on ATCNews, written by Charlotte Beauvoisin.