New females, new friendships

February 9, 2014

Chimpanzees have a society in which females leave their natal community around puberty and immigrate to another group. It seems that females ‘try out’ several communities before finding the group where she will stay and bear children.  In Sonso, our immigrant-age females (Anywhere between 12-16 years old) will ‘disappear’ for a few weeks at a time during their fertile oestrus period, and we assume them to be visiting neighboring communities. At the same time, we also occasionally see stranger females who come to visit us, though they don’t always stay. This 2014 dry season, we have already seen 3 stranger females. We’re excited to see whether we’ll have permanent additions from this batch of exploring females!

Last year at this time, Sonso had 3 immigrant sightings, 2 of which remained with our group (below). Both Upesi and Irene became fully habituated after only a year with the Sonso Community. They tend to spend a lot of time grooming together, or with other members of the community, which is nice for us to see. Researchers, Veterinary staff, and Field Assistants all like the two females very much, and grooming is one way chimpanzees build strong affiliations with group members.

Photo by Corinne Ackermann.

Photo by Corinne Ackermann.




The newest immigrant female to the Sonso community, Irene is a very quiet female with a curious, friendly face. She first came to the community in 2012, and has since often been seen grooming, feeding, and travelling with the community. She was named in 2013 after the daughter of a BCFS employee, and is estimated at 15/16 years old.




Photo by Corinne Ackermann.

Photo by Corinne Ackermann.



Named “fast” in Swahili, Upesi is another recent immigrant to the Sonso community. She was first seen in the southeast and regularly joined Sonso when they travelled to that area. She very quickly became comfortable around researchers and chimpanzees alike, and very little time passed before she was well habituated and walking through camp!  She is an estimated 13/14 years old.


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