After an extended break from the island–2 months–I am now back, London was great because I had a chance to see my friends and family. But I have also missed Rubondo and my little chimpies. So after a month of October of not seeing the elusive fellas I had a wonderful end of the month when the chimps decided to stay with us last Friday.
We heard the chimpanzees calling on several consecutive days, and saw them briefly for half an hour on Thursday. Then because we knew roughly where they were sleeping on Thursday night, we travelled early in the morning at 5AM to Kamea on Friday; on entering the forest at 06:25hrs we heard load chimpanzee calls and walked closer towards their sounds. We observed the chimpanzees dropping from their nests and walking along the forest floor. It was very dark at this time and so it was difficult to see them clearly. But we think there were about 6 chimps in total.. The chimpanzees kept vocalising for half an hour. Several of them started to move up the hill, and my trackers followed them up onto the top. We saw one chimpanzee climb back on top of a tree. So together with a field assistant I stayed back and waited for it to drop back down. We waited for nearly an hour. It was difficult to see the chimpanzee because the tree in which it was located in was very bushy/dense-we patiently sat and waited.
Then suddenly there was a commotion in the tree and two chimpanzees climbed out and onto another tree. They crossed several trees and finally settled down to observe us. There was one adult male and one juvenile male. They continued to call intermittently for around 3 hours. They were feeding and resting for some of the time. The chimpanzees remained with us for 10 hours and even built a proper day nest up in the trees. I had to send one of my boys to fetch me some lunch at midday. Eventually at 16:30hrs they moved off to join their fellows and we lost them in the thick lianas.