We’ve been seeing quite a lot of Congo (one of the wild chimps) and her children recently. The younger of the two girls is now big enough to become a real playmate for her big sister, who also helps take care of her little sister when mum is busy (but never far away).
Congo’s daughters enjoy playing in the trees at Tacugama
Time for big sister to take her kid sister back to mum
Last Sunday at about 7am we became very concerned when we saw the youngest daughter, who is not 2 years old yet, on her own at Tacugama and clearly not happy that her sister and mum were not around. It is almost unheard of that chimpanzees will leave infants unaccompanied, if mum is busy then an aunt or uncle will usually step in to help. For a couple of hours we had to harden our hearts and just observe from a distance that the little girl was unharmed, it was also hard for some of our more maternally minded chimpanzees as she passed between the enclosures crying for attention. They were also clearly concerned for her. As she is a wild chimp it was important that we didn’t intervene if it wasn’t necessary.
After a couple of hours with no signs of her mum and sister, some of our staff then set out to follow the trails that we know Congo uses hoping that we would find some clue as to what had happened. Earlier that day we had heard some calling from the wild chimps as they moved around the Tacugama boundaries, noisier than usual but not so exceptional to cause us concern until we saw the little girl by herself.
Congo’s little daughter calls for attention….
….and looks for support….
….not at all happy with her predicament.
For some time the team had no luck and we started fearing the worst. Finally, close to 11am we spotted her sister moving around camp, clearly on a mission. Soon after one of our search team called in that he had spotted Congo and he was privileged to witness a touching re-union between mother and daughter.
We still don’t know what caused the highly unusual separation between mother and daughter. Was Congo caught up in some disagreements with her wild family? Had another member of the group been looking after the baby close to Tacugama been involved in the disturbance and become separated as a result? Did the little girl know Tacugama was a safe haven and made her own way to some familiar territory or was she dropped off with us while other problems were resolved in the knowledge that it was the safest place around to leave an unaccompanied youngster? We will probably never know and hope that we don’t see events repeated – it was very hard to leave that little one distressed until her mum thankfully returned safely.
Back with the smallest members of Tacugama’s family it was time for a weigh-in for Sarah, AJ, Benita, Tompey, Kangari, Samson, Delila and Chippie. As they are all growing quickly it’s important that we keep track of their progress, and weight is a good indicator.
Chippie and Delilah look on as Samson is weighed by Posseh and Dr Simona
Chippie tries to tip the balance!
As we write this blog we are also sadly battling with what looks to be a recurrence of EMCV(read here for more information), that is giving us cause for great concern. We will bring you more news on this soon.