My safari in Africa had two big hiking adventures. The first was a trek into the rainforest in Kibale National Park, Uganda to track a group of chimpanzee. I was excited about trekking to the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. I have always loved watching chimps in zoos interact with each other. The creatures are very social and the interactions are so human-like. My favorite zoo memory is from the Atlanta Zoo. A younger male chimp was on the climbing structure. He peed off the side of the structure and onto an older male below. The look of hatred was understood by human and chimp alike. I wish I had a video of it.
Kibale isn’t my first experience with a chimp in Africa. While living in Equatorial Guinea, I meet a young chimp. The chimp had been taken from its family group in the cloud forests of mainland Equatorial Guinea. It was captured as a baby and used as a pet. It was heart-wrenching to see this majestic animal living in a small concrete cage with no other chimps to interact with.
I had an afternoon trek so I spent the morning taking a walking village tour near the guest house. After lunch, my safari group drove up to Kibale National Park Visitor Center. We spent about 20 mins at the center learning about the animals of Kibale. My group was divided into four smaller groups as we headed into the forest to hike out to the chimpanzee.
We were hoping to catch up with a one of the two habituated groups of chimpanzees in the park. The group we were hiking to had about 100 individuals. We started into the forest. The four groups split up heading towards the last known location of the chimps. Our guide got word that the group had been located and they were on the move. Our guide led us off the trail and further into the forest.
After about 30 minutes of bushwacking, we slowed down and had our first wild chimpanzee sighting. It was a middle age male. The male was known for knocking humans over and waiting until they got up to laugh at them again. I had knelt down on one knee to take a few photographs.
I took a couple of photos when my guide pulled me up and started backing my group off. The male suddenly shifted moods and charger at us. He snapped a 2-inch tree like it was a small twig. I could feel the ground shake from where he pounded on it. He ran off without hurting anyone.
We headed off to see a few other chimpanzees from this group. I exchanged a look with one of the other girls from the group. I was hoping the next chimp would be more tourist friendly. We found two more chimps eating on a log. We spent the rest of the time observing these two animals.
These two males were more tourist friendly and showed off for a few pictures. After an hour, we headed out of the forest. We saw a couple more chimps in the trees as we left the forest. They were too far away to photograph but it was an amazing sighting.
I left the forest with a new appreciated of chimps and their behavior. I can’t help but hate the fact there is nothing I can do for the chimp I saw in Equatorial Guinea. Chimps deserve to be with their family group and in the wild.
Would you like to hike to see the Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park? What would you do about the chimp in Equatorial Guinea?