The rain was light and the mud was everywhere, but we suited up and started off for our adventure. Honestly, I was truly excited about coming face to face with a chimp, but after the “briefing,” as we approached the entrance of the park, all I could think about were elephants. I was not excited about seeing an elephant. In fact I was rather terrified, since elephants are actually quite scary creatures. But I trudged on behind the group with those thoughts staying carefully tucked inside my head and we crept along listening and searching for chimps.
Our first clue to locating them was the sound of screeching. Our guide led the way and we found a group way high up in the trees. There were about 8-10 of them climbing around eating fruit way high up in the canopy. With the contrast of white cloudy sky and the dark forest, the chimps were really hard to make out and pictures were even more hopeless, but we patiently looked through the binoculars and listened in amazement.
We were told that it was very unlikely they would come down from the trees because they don’t like the rain or the wet ground, but all of a sudden, a large male, climbed down and started lumbering through the trees. Bego shouted and we were right on his tail. Our guide led us in a zig-zagged line trying to keep up and within 3 minutes, he slowed down in a clearing. Amazingly enough there were about 7-8 other chimps hanging out on fallen tree trunks grooming each other. There was even a baby around. From that moment on, my mind was on the chimps. No worry about elephants, no worry about snakes, just pure bliss. It was an experience like no other and it will stay with me for eternity.
After meeting Jane Goodall last year and seeing her life’s work, it all makes sense. She really had it all figured out. As you scroll down the photos, you will notice a chimpanzee without a hand. This happened in a snare set out to catch local game. This is still happening throughout East Africa. If you have a change to donate, visit, teach others, or anything else to help, please do so. The world will be a better place for it. Enjoy!