Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our last guests of the season.

Our last guests have departed and Greystoke is closed for another season. Kiri and I are proud of our 100% record in that every guest who has walked to try and see the Chimpanzees has at least seen them once. We have had several guests that never actually left the camp and this happened with a couple of guests in our last group. When guests are unable to walk in Mahale’s mountainous forest environment we do have a couple of tricks up our sleeve. Back in the 1960’s the Japanese researchers habituated the Chimps by feeding them sugar Cain, when it was feeding time they would beat several drums to attract the Chimps to the feeding station. A Chimpanzees memory is amazing and several members of the community where youngsters in 1965 and remember the drums and the sweet sugar Cain. On the last night of the season the drums were going until midnight. Unfortunately, the next morning, no Chimpanzee’s, sadly some guests left without seeing a Chimpanzee. However, the morning after, Kiri and I were woken at first light by Chimpanzees screaming behind our room, as I scrambled out of bed and ran up the path several Chimps disappeared into the forest. I turned around and right behind me was Michio and Teddy bringing up the rear of the group as per usual. Michio was 15 when we arrived 2 years ago, he was sick, skinny and constantly picked on by the alpha male, Pimu. What a difference 2 years have made, he is now a big confident male slowly working his way up the ranks.

Michio almost 2 years ago.

Michio's distinct drooping lower lip may be a nervous habit picked up due to his difficult teenage years.

Now 17.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Little Beauties of Mahale

It is selfish indeed to claim that one month at Greystoke is not enough time in Mahale, considering that most visitors stay for three or four days.  Still, it is hard to escape the feeling that we are just beginning to scratch the surface of this spectacular forest.

Chimps do steal the show here, without question and with very good reason.  It could certainly be argued that they are the keystone species of Mahale Mountains National Park.  Protecting their habitat protects myriad other species too.

Steve and Kiri are on the dhow, heading south from the airstrip.  Any moment now we'll meet them on the beach to welcome them back home.  Lake Tanganyika is exquisite today.  Til next time...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two Faces of Mahale

While mornings spent in the forest tracking chimps can put some sweat on your brow, a Greystoke afternoon exudes relaxation.  Even the wildlife is chilled here.  This lovely little lady warthog has decided she is one of the guests, often wandering through the lodge.
Even Alofu showed up to eat from the tree beside Room 5, then sauntered into the forest and sat in the perfect patch of sunlight, just before sunset.  The joke of the day was how tired people were after a morning with chimps high on the forested hills, only to have another excellent sighting right under our noses later on.
Having enjoyed a moment in the spotlight, and not to be outdone, the pigs put on a show to cap off the day.  Their message was clear, "Look at chimps in the morning.  Afternoons are ours."