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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Kazi Ngumu (Hard Work)
Today marked the one-week marker of being in Gombe, which meant that I could now spend the entire day in the forest. Since Rachel, Magombe and I had nested Gaia the night before, we had a starting point of where to begin.
Magombe and I began our day at 6 a.m. to locate Gaia while Carson Murray helped Dominic and Rachel pack-up, seeing them off as they headed to the Serengeti.
Later in the morning, Carson and Sampson, another field assistant, met up with us. We decided to switch to observing Fudge, an adolescent male, in hopes that he might lead us to other chimpanzees.
As I mentioned, this was my first full day in the forest and the forest did not hold back. While scaling the slopes to keep up with Fudge, I slipped a few times. Through the fast-paced game of Œkeep-up¹ that Fudge appeared to be playing, I did not even notice that I had cut my knuckle. I rinsed off my cut with my drinking water but used it sparingly; little did I know that it would come in handy again later that day.
Later, as we were watching Fudge feed in a tree, a bug decided to get a close-up of my eye. After a few minutes of discomfort, I turned to my drinking water again, using it to flush out the little bugger.
These moments stood out because it drove home the point that this was going to be some hard work keeping up with the chimps. As we quickly trotted down the trails just as fast as we had climbed up what seemed to be the same trail moments earlier to follow the chimps, it felt like some extreme chimpanzee research. I think the whole thing would make for a great energy-drink commercial. Although Rachel and Carson rejected the idea, I think the pitch helps to at least illustrate the toughness of this gig.
Gombe Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute to study and conserve chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research. Our Gombe field diaries feature updates as scientists monitor chimpanzee health, study ape behavior and experience life in Gombe.
As director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lonsdorf leads Lincoln Park Zoo efforts in Gombe National Park.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
A graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Matt is studying how levels of play in Gombe¹s chimpanzees influence stress, development and reproductive success.
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