8 Feb 2013

Zamba ya Pete Pete

Kiyota and Kiku in newly cleared crop field

Two weeks left. Where did the time go? Although it will be sad to leave, it feels as though my stay is reaching a natural conclusion. Different parts of my life here are wrapping themselves up. My third dataset is almost complete; I gave ADEWA their donation from the chicken project; the trackers started to give me little going away presents. It will be very difficult to say goodbye; both to the trackers and the bonobos.

       I know that the bonobos are well habituated, but I sometimes wonder just how much they recognise the individuals who follow them. Every evening at the rapport we take attendance for the bonobos that we saw that day, and the trackers joke that every evening the bonobos do the same for the trackers and researchers that they saw that day. In January and February, the bonobos have been spending a lot more time in the secondary growth forest, zamba ya pete pete, close to the ground. Almost every day I have a powerful experience with different individuals. One day, Jacky walked and sat three metres in front of me and proceeded to play with Jolie and Jo, her 1-year-old and 5-year-old children. Yesterday, when I was filming Kiku and Kiyota in a cleared patch of field, I turned around to see Otoko, a 2-year-old infant, hanging and shaking from a vine only a metre away, staring intently at me. Her mother was another metre away from her and was not at all phased by her daughter's behaviour. Then there are the times when the whole group of Kame Kake will sit on a log close to the ground and groom each other for over an hour while the infants run and roll and play all around them. I don't want to be one of those soppy primatologists, but after spending enough time in a bonobo community, it's hard not to be at least a little affected :-)

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