Until our recent water project at Bulindi, many local households got water from streams or springs by the forest. At such times they often encountered the chimpanzees. Many local villagers are afraid of the chimps -- especially young children, who are often tasked with fetching water. Sometimes women and children couldn't collect water at all because of the chimps; at other times, groups of children would shout and throw stones at them. Such behavior can provoke aggression from chimps and several children have been hurt as a result. In turn, this reduces local tolerance towards the chimpanzees.
In addition to providing villagers with improved access to clean safe water, the recent construction of 3 village boreholes should substantially reduce these risky encounters between chimps and people, leading to a more positive coexistence! Thank you so much to Wendy Tisdell of BridgIt Water Foundation and Steven Beingana of Suubi Community Projects-Uganda for making the water project happen! Pant hoots!!!
Wendy is Leila's infant daughter and the youngest member of the Bulindi chimp community. She's now 11 months old! Wendy was recently named after Wendy Tisdell, director of BridgIt Water Foundation who generously supported a borehole project at Bulindi. Thanks to the help from (human!) Wendy, 3 villages in Bulindi now have access to clean water -- impacting over 1000 people! Already we're seeing a positive effect for the chimps too: the boreholes mean that people no longer fetch water from the forest, and as a result they're less likely to get into altercations with the chimps!
LEILA is a tough cookie. At 17 or 18, she's still young but she's the top-ranked female at Bulindi -- which is unusual, since in chimp society a female's rank is usually related to her age. We strongly suspect Leila is the daughter of the elderly Joyce (they always hang out and share food together), and Joyce seems to have been the previous alpha female. Perhaps, then, Leila has enjoyed a privileged position since she was young. Leila is Bulindi's noisiest chimp; her distinct raspy voice carries for miles. She often calls and displays for no apparent reason when the others are resting. She has two offspring: 4-year old Georgia and 11-month old Wendy. Leila's girls typically ride together on her back during travel.
Aged 12, MOSES is on the cusp of adulthood. His physical transformation over the last year is striking: he's like one of those teenage boys who, when you see them after a break, you think 'wow, when did you get so big?!' Even alpha male Sylvester has taken note and sometimes grooms him. Moses has a complex character, at times calm and quiet, other times excitable and irritable. He's Bulindi's best stick thrower: if he's annoyed (or bored?) it's not a good idea to walk under his tree. But Moses has a soft side: he's an avid groomer and loves playing with infants. He took care of younger brother Araali when their mother Olive was killed crossing a road in 2015. We expect Moses to lead the group in a few years time.