25 Oct 2012

The ' poto poto'

Jacky and Jolie eating Simbukilo, a swamp truffle


This week has been a fun one, albeit very wet. Kame Kake spent the entire week in the 'poto poto', or swamp. It's hard work following bonobos while also trying not to lose both boots and fall face first into prickly vines! I worked from Wednesday until Saturday, every morning, glad to be out of the research station after my week convalescing (from a  sore foot). On Saturday as we were setting off it started to rain. By 5:20 it was pouring and we had to take cover under some trees to wait for it to let up before going into the poto poto. We made it to the nest, and the bonobos didn't move all day. They just hunkered down as the water in the swamp started to rise. It reminded me of a level on 'Rayman', when you have to jump higher and higher as the water is slowly catching up.

I thought that I had done pretty well in the swamp; no big mishaps. I took Sunday off, and it sounded as though Kame Kake had left the swamp that afternoon. But when I went out on Monday morning, they made a beeline back to the swamp crossing a particularly flooded area. Everything went wrong that day - I fell into the swamp past my mid-thighs, a branch fell on my shoulder, the camera battery hadn't charged properly, and I got attacked by ants and bees. All the way back to the station I chuckled to myself, wondering how I ever thought I could escape the true 'poto poto' experience. 

 Yesterday Kame Kake took it easy on me. They left the swamp and spent the whole day moving from one Batofe tree to the next, nesting in between. This morning they hardly moved until 10:00, before cutting through the most dense new growth straight to the swamp. They're hooked on Bokombe fruit in the poto poto!

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