As time goes by the general opinion now favors Primus as the new Alpha male. Alofu seems to be content slotting back into the beta position. Our guests were watching Alofu relaxing on the path when he suddenly stood on two legs and turned in the direction of a displaying Chimpanzee. Primus charged through the undergrowth towards Alofu who quickly ran behind a big tree, as Primus passed, Alofu poked his head out to watch the younger male scream past. He then moved back out onto the path and resumed the same pose. Moments later, Primus stomped back and sat down next to Alofu for a grooming session.
Primus stomping back past Alofu
While grooming the Chimpanzees communicate by pant hooting. Thank you Safoit Mardam for the photos.
Animal protein is back on the menu for the Chimpanzees of Mahale. It’s been many months since we’ve watched the Chimpanzees hunting, possibly due to emotions running on high after Pimu’s demise.
Our guests trekked into the forest after breakfast with an estimated half hour walk to meet the Chimps. They arrived to exciting news from the trackers who had just watched Alofu snatch an opportunistic breakfast in the form of a Blue Duiker. The Blue Duiker is the second smallest antelope in Africa and very fast, it is not an animal the Chimps will pursue on an organized hunt due to its allusiveness.
Alofu being the ultimate politician then proceeded to hand out tasty morsels of meat to almost all of the Chimps with him. The notable exception was Primus who he totally ignored.
This seemed to spark some life into the male Chimpanzees and the real hunt was on. The big males then proceeded to surround a Red Colobus troop high in the canopy. Surprisingly young Orion was at the center and once the Colobus were surrounded he shot up and snatched a young monkey. Darwin then sauntered up and stole the monkey out of Orion’s hands confirming Darwin’s number 3 position within the community. Darwin shared his spoils with 2 girls Canato and Vera, nothing was offered to the males involved in the hunt.
Then moments later the males were off again but this time it was Primus who led the hunt. He wasn’t satisfied with a juvenile monkey, he went for an adult and easily killed it, eating by himself up the tree. When full he casually dropped the half eaten Colobus for the other males to fight over. Interestingly, Alofu sat and watched, not taking part or competing for the scraps.
Many are favoring Primus as the new Alpha male but I’m not so sure yet!
The Chimpanzees are powerful and fast when moving through the trees in pursuit of prey.
Lake Tanganyika holds 17 percent of the world’s fresh water. Due to its remoteness the lake has no major industry along its banks helping contribute to its clear and uncontaminated waters. Tanganyika is so big that it creates its own weather patterns like this morning when we watched a huge waterspout form in the middle of the lake.
One Chimpanzee I have a lot of respect for is Nkombo. Nkombo has never had children, she is one of two females in the community that has always been barren.
Similar to humans, Chimpanzees cannot become pregnant while lactating or breast feeding, its got to do with a hormone that the body produces when they breast feed regularly. On average a female Chimpanzee will breast feed for 4 or 5 years which means they will not come into estrus until the child is eating solids. Only during estrus do the boys find the ladies attractive.
Now in her 40’s Nkombo has been coming into estrus for 6 days every month since she reached sexual maturity at the age of 12. Where as the other ladies in the community spend only a fraction of their life in estrus poor Nkombo gets hassled by the guys every month. Over the years she has formed a very close relationship with Kalunde ‘the king maker’ who is the oldest and most respected male. They are never far apart and on more than one occasion we have watched Kalunde protecting his girl friend from the advances of the other males.
One of the highlights of Chimpanzee trekking is watching the babies play. We are lucky to have 12 baby Chimpanzees in the community. In particular we are keeping a close eye on Christina’s baby who is still not 100%, it seems her baby has a stomach problem.