Ups and downs of Cordia season
July 31, 2011
We had an amazing start to our new habituation project, with the team making great progress and the chimps becoming more used to and more tolerant of the odd people following them through the trees (and swamps) each day. But it’s been a tough few weeks recently, even the well habituated Sonso community have been in stealth mode, flitting elusively through the forest searching for feeding trees. It should be the Cordia season, with the ripe sticky yellow fruits a chimp favourite, but it seems as though after last years bumper crop the trees left little energy for the next season and the fruits have been pretty sparse. At Sonso the chimps can always turn to their perennial favourite Brusinettia (the Paper Mulberry), planted all around our camp during the sawmill days, but the Waibira South group don’t have that luxury and have been leading our team far and wide chasing after calls that disappear quickly off into the distance. There are other challenges cropping up too, as we start to regularly cover more and more of the new grid the sheer scale of the snare and pit-sawing problems in the areas outside of our main research zone become more and more apparent. Diiro and Biruhanni our hardworking trail cutters and snare removers have been taking up to 60 wires out a day, many of them new, and we regularly encounter new illegal pit-sawing sites – almost all of them Cordia trees which are prized for boat building and taken over to the lake-side villages. It may be no coincidence that the Waibira chimps are struggling to find food in Cordia season.
The human pressure on the forest increases with each year and it’s only through keeping an open and honest dialog with local communities that we can try to instigate programs that will ensure the long-term sustainment of the forest both as a conservation area and a valuable part of the local ecosystem which benefits everyone. Our education team is spreading the word in the villages about the expansion of the research zone and the reasons for why we’re removing the snares we come across, and next week a huge mop up operation is planned with both the entire Sonso snare removal team and many of the members of the ex-hunters group to try and make serious impact on the trap numbers in the forest. We’re hopeful that in the long term, as we’ve seen at Sonso, the number of snare injuries will start to drop in the Waibira community. To end on a positive note we thought we’d introduce a few of the boys to you: the size and scale of the new community still astounds us with new large adult males seen on a regular basis we’re now up to at least 15 independent boys in just a few months! To put it in perspective Sonso has at the most 10, many of which are young adult males just starting to establish themselves. We’ve opted for a Scottish-Ugandan theme with most of the boys being given Scottish names and the girls and their children Ugandan ones, so to start us off here are a few new faces: