HAPPY MUM'S DAY! (for those in the UK & a handful of other countries that celebrate Mother's Day in March, not May!)
This is Leila carrying her two daughters together on her back: young Wendy and older sister Georgia. Most female chimps only have to carry one infant at a time, but there are currently 3 "double duty" Mums at Bulindi, including Leila. At age 4 and a half, it's about time Georgia gave Leila a break and started walking by herself!
Four year-old Georgia is Leila's eldest offspring. As the daughter of the top-ranked female in Bulindi, Georgia benefits from her mother's influential role at the centre of the group. Not surprisingly she's confident for her age, and she's bigger than her close age-mates Merrick and Rohen. While some infants struggle when their mother gives birth to a new baby, Georgia seemed delighted when baby sister Wendy came along last year. She relishes her role as big sister and can often be seen carrying Wendy on her back or belly, just as Leila does. Clearly, Georgia will be an excellent mother one day!
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!