WELCOME TO AKETI, LOLA AND ADAMU! I am so glad you guys have come to help! We sure need it. We have now seen 30 chimpanzee orphans in the area since last September and 18 carcasses for sale. Unfortunately, we cannot save all of these chimpanzees, but with Laura and Adam down here I am sure that Kathe, Django Mayanga, Bolungwa and Mangé will get all the love and care that they need when I return to Holland in a month to write my PhD.
The following are some recent extracts from my journal:
October 21, 2008
This has been by far the best day I have had in a long time. Laura still has a bit of a cough, so she reluctantly decides to stay home, but I walk to the sanctuary with Adam, Seba and Jojo. I greet folks as we pass with ‘Yambi’s and ‘Mbote’s, which Adam quickly picks up on. Polycarpe has completely renovated Monganzulu … the road has been cleared, and they have built a mud hut. It looks great! I panthoot my arrival from a distance, and the chimps race out to greet us. Kathe and Adam really hit it off, with Kathe wasting no time playing her favorite game with him --- King of the Mountain on top of his head! She also frequently sticks her butt in his face. I get some great films and photos. While Kathe romps, swings and spins on us, Django Mayango hangs about on the sidelines, repeatedly approaching cautiously and planting on us his bite/kiss greet, or slapping at us jealously. Bolungwa as usual stays in the background, watching us untrustingly. Django urinates on Adam’s Beatles t-shirt, hitting poor old George Harrison straight in the face. ‘You could have at least have pissed on a living Beatle!’ Adam jokingly chides him. Somehow I manage to break a stool and then a bench, on the latter occasion ending up on my back with a post sticking dangerously up between my legs. Kathe and Django swarm over me. Django knocks off my glasses and Kathe gets a hold of them, but I somehow manage to get them back intact. Adam swings Kathe round and round and she guffaws with laugher.. The chimps look so great, and healthy, and happy! I tip everyone generously and will work on the salaries this afternoon. I feel better than I have in many many months!!!! When we get back, I share my photos with Adam and Laura and Adam makes a great report to Laura on the healthiness and liveliness of the chimps. Laura will accompany us tomorrow, and she can’t wait. I think we may finally have come over the crest of the hill.
October 22, 2008
When Seba and Dido were at the Aketi market today around 10:30, a female merchant told them that she was selling chimp meat, and would they like to buy some? Around 14:45, I send Seba on the motorbike to the market, where he is able to photo A SMOKED CHIMPANZEE CARCASS. It is fairly obvious that it is chimp meat, though it is just some ribs and several small pinkish chunks of flesh. The ribs are long and the meat is red. The merchant hoped that Seba would buy the meat. She wanted 2000 francs (roughly $4) for the ribs and ‘petites morceaux’ (in comparison, according to Adam a chicken sells here for roughly $5). The vendor says that the carcass arrived yesterday from the Yoko Forest, brought by the hunter. She is not mad at Seba when he says we do not buy chimpanzees. She tells Seba that a new chimp carcass arrives every 2 or 3 days, usually from the Yoko or Bongolu Forests.
As we are sitting out in the backyard next to groggy Mangé, Laura and then Adam manage to come and join us without any reaction from the sleeping chimpanzee baby. Mangé wakes up with no screams, and rambles around on the blanket in his solitary play (sometimes accompanied by his rocking/humping). After all the dire warnings from the workers that feeding Mangé milk from a bottle would surely never work, that the ‘biberon’ is too big for his mouth, and that poor Mangé would surely dribble the milk all over his chin, Laura easily manages to coax Mangé to totter over on his wobbly little legs. LO AND BEHOLD, he accepts the bottle from Laura, eagerly slurping down the milk after a few tentative and ill-advised chews. He then retires to his blanket emitting a series of contented belches. A new friendship has been formed! Congrats to Laura, Mangé and Mr. Polycarpe (Polycarpe has been patiently wearing the orphan around his neck for the last 2 and a half months, a ‘veritable maman de subsitition’!)
Mangé is now totally relaxed around all of us, but it will probably be a while before we can hold him in our arms.
Now, time for malaria medicine!!!
Despite my dizziness, it has been a very pleasant afternoon out back. Adam is reading a Star Wars book and Laura is working on a needlepoint. And ‘un peu de frottage’ against the canvas and towel for Bebe Mangé!