Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nanny ship

This morning’s trek was fabulous. And not only because of the large number of chimpanzees that we saw. It was the group activity that we found to be so amusing!

Today Fatuma’s 2,5 year old daughter spend some quality learning time with her nanny of choice; Gwekulo. The single most popular nanny in the group, Gwekulo is liked by both babies and mothers. Sadly she has never been able to conceive children herself.

Gwekulo with Fatuma's baby sitting on the tree.

Now 50 years old, Gwekulo certainly tries to make up for that by teaching valuable life lessons to infants and spending plenty of time with them.

The lesson of this morning was how to impress other chimpanzees. This was done by pounding the back leg on the tree as loudly as possible. Although not totally visible on the picture, the scene was hilarious. As the baby tried to pound her little leg on the tree, Gwekulo watched her in satisfaction.

Fatuma's baby raising her right leg to start pounding the tree in order to impress others... 

The other lesson was pant hooting. Though chimpanzees panthoot for many reasons, this morning’s lesson focused on paying respect to higher ranking individuals. 

To the right Gwekulo is pant hooting in a submissive way. The baby is paying attention and trying vocalize too...

As alpha male Primus approached the group, Gwekulo showed how to panthoot as a form of subsmission.

Gwekulo moving forward towards Primus as she keep pant hooting.

With the baby paying attention to every detail, you can see how she makes the effort to move forward on the tree branch, trying to pant hoot in the meantime.

And after Gwekulo also Fatauma's baby move forward trying to show respect...

The scenes of this morning were totally amusing and very interesting to see - we hope to catch some more nanny ship lessons in the coming week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Cotton Stainer

Often overshadowed by the charismatic and more appealing chimpanzees, the great variety of insects found in Mahale Mountains NP is certainly very interesting. Especially after a little research you realize what and enormous array of bugs share the same place as us.

A bug often encounter along the forested paths of Greystoke camp is the pale cotton stainer. Relative small in size with a body length up to 17 mm it’s brightly colored and feeds mainly on seeds associated with species of wild hibiscus and kapok . Interestingly adults remain mated for days!

Mating cotton stainers on the forest path near Greystoke camp

And where the name comes from…?

The Cotton Stainer is widely spread with over 300 species worldwide. Adults can pierce cotton bolls to suck sap from the seeds, allowing a fungi to enter the cotton which stains it with a yellowish color. Especially during the industrial revolution in the USA this little bug caused massive problems.
That’s what I said – you just have to look it up and it becomes very interesting!