In Uganda's Hoima District, ten or more groups of wild chimps cling narrowly to survival in disappearing habitat around villages (the total population is around 300 individuals). The Bulindi chimpanzees are just one of these groups.
This year we began working in three new areas to help conserve more of Hoima's imperilled chimpanzees. One of the groups in desperate circumstances are the Wagaisa chimps, whom we're just starting to get to know. These unfortunate chimps are under unimaginable pressure: virtually all their natural forest was cut down, logged for timber and converted to farmland. Their range is criss-crossed with ever-busier roads and local rivers and swamps are polluted by a 'gin' distillery which operates without regard to its environmental impact. The Wagaisa chimps seek cover in exotic eucalyptus plantations that will too be cut for fuelwood for the factory. Turning this dire situation around presents an enormous challenge, but we're determined to find solutions to help these poor chimps.
Huge thanks to Nancy Merrick and all the team at Friends of Chimps for helping us raise funds to expand the project this year.
Meet little Kasatu - the last of the 22 chimpanzees in our 'meet and greet the Bulindi chimps' series. Kasatu, meaning 'the third' in the local Runyoro language, was so-called because he was the third infant born during a baby boom in April last year. He is Jemima's first infant and she's hugely protective of him. Perhaps because Jemima herself is small, Kasatu is the smallest of the three same-aged infants. Still, he's doing well and likes to clamber around by himself, whenever Jemima lets him out of reach. Kasatu has a 'crazy old man' face which exudes character.
Tabitha is Teddy's juvenile daughter. All her age-mates are males (Jack, Araali and Gerald) and perhaps as a result she's quite tomboyish and has a feisty streak. Unlike her mum Teddy, Tabitha isn't shy of us and may approach to shake branches or throw small sticks at us. Now aged 8, she's beginning to develop small pink swellings of her perineal skin, indicating she's entering adolescence. We expect the males in the group will start taking more notice of Tabitha next year!
Ally is Teddy's youngest infant. We didn't see much of him until quite recently, given Teddy's shy and protective nature. Sometimes when Ally's wobbly infant wanderings took him too close to us, a black hairy hand would shoot out from the undergrowth to pull him back safely out of sight. Aged three, he's now reached the age where Teddy doesn't feel the need to keep such a close eye on him. A curious chap, Ally clearly loves his new-found independence!