A Birth in Sonso

February 16, 2014

Harriet had a baby girl! Pictured here (in slightly fuzzy video stills) at 1 week and 3 months. She has Harriet’s pug nose! Even at 3 months, she is very vocal and constantly cooing to her mom and siblings.

Video still by Brittany Fallon.

Video still by Brittany Fallon.

We name infants according to the first letter of the mother’s name, so in April we’ll be seeking female ‘H’ names for her naming party. Harriet has 4 other children: Hawa (m, 21), Helen (f, 13), Honey (f, 8), and Heri (f, 5).

Video still by Brittany Fallon.

Video still by Brittany Fallon.

Research Spotlight: Harmony Yersin

BCFS welcomes another Master’s student to the Waibira and Sonso communities: Harmony Yersin, from the University of Neuchâtel. Here is a description of her research:

“The effect of snare injuries on infant care and parasite infection in wild female chimpanzees”

In recent years, human population near habitats where wild chimpanzees live have been increasing. One consequence is the illegal setting of snares hidden in the forests to catch animals. The chimpanzees are not targeted by poachers, but they are sometimes accidentally caught in the snares. Most survive, but they will suffer lifelong consequences. It is estimated that one third of chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, Uganda, suffer from health problems due to snare injuries.

Various studies have already been conducted on the problem of snaring in Budongo Forest. In this study, I will focus on the relation between snare injuries and female reproductive success by focussing on three aspects that have received comparably little attention so far: (a) behavioural differences in infant care of snared and healthy mothers, (b) differences in intestinal parasite load of snared and healthy mothers and (c) predisposition of contracting human diseases.

OK folks, we’re now a proper page on Facebook so check out the link on the right, come on down and please Like away – feel free to post stories, photos and news of your Budongo friends, furry or otherwise!

Kalema has been a familiar face to many of the researchers and staff on the chimpanzee team here in Budongo. Around from the earliest days of the project she’s easily recognized from her badly disfigured hand, the result of an old snare injury, or the unusually pointy head that she appears to have passed on to all of her children – leading to them being affectionately named the ‘coneheads’..


At 33-years old she’s had three children: Bahati her eldest daughter who emigrated to our Waibira group, Kumi her middle daughter who recently emigrated too, although we’ve yet to work out where, and Klaus, her youngest son who, as the apple of his mother’s watchful eye, constantly gets himself into scraps and scrapes which she frantically smooths over for him. As Klaus just turned 6, it was about time that they had a new arrival in the family but sadly this just hasn’t been our year for baby chimps, and following the losses of both Oakland and Nora’s babies – Kalema also lost her new infant, apparently to natural causes. To add to our worries this had clearly been a difficult birth and Kalema was left with a prolapsed uterus – a potentially life threatening situation. A natural risk of childbirth there was nothing for us to do but monitor her carefully and keep our fingers crossed that Kalema would battle through. Now after a couple of nervous weeks we can at last report that she seems to have turned a corner, and despite needing a little more rest than usual is getting back to her daily routine.

Bahati’s new addition

Maybe our luck is starting to turn as Bahati (who’s name means Luck in Swahili) has just made her a grandma! We’re keeping every set of fingers and toes crossed in the forest that our new mother lives up to her name – and gives us our first Waibira baby born to a fully habituated female. If it’s a little girl perhaps she’ll emigrate back to her grandmother’s community one day!

New kids on the block..

September 12, 2012

We see lots of changes over the years at Budongo: births and deaths, immigrations and emigrations. One of the most exciting parts of now having two neighbouring groups is that we can start to see some of those changes unfolding. Female chimpanzees emigrate to another community when they reach sexual maturity (somewhere between 13-15years old), there are a few, such as Kewaya, who stay in their natal community but these are rare exceptions. Usually once a young female has started to have the regular cycles of her sexual swelling she’ll also start to disappear off for a few days, weeks, and eventually months at a time. This year Katia, Janet and Kumi all disappeared for longer trips and so far only Katia has made it back to us. Hopefully Janet and Kumi are settling into new groups somewhere, they’re on the young side to immigrate but they were both always fairly precocious girls who started cycling early and had the attitude to match.

On the other side of it we see new faces popping up in Sonso – recently a fluffy young girl who can’t be more than 11 or 12 years old has become a regular visitor and seems to be settling in for the time being. She seems to have buddied up with Simon who can usually be found grooming her for long periods of time in the swamps to the south. Excitingly a couple of weeks ago, when the big fig that stands tall over camp came into fruit another new face cropped up – this one seemed half familiar to us and we realised that while we don’t know her she is the spitting image of several of our Waibira females.. Perhaps as Nora and Bahati went from Sonso up into Waibira, we’ll now start to see some of our Waibira girls comes south-west into Sonso. Kipepeo and Rachna are our best bets for young girls at the right age to immigrate – but with the results to the DNA analyses that the team have worked hard to get now coming through, we’ll hopefully be able to even check out individuals who we haven’t yet met.

our fluffy young visitor who looks a lot like Pascal

are the Waibira girls starting to come to Sonso?

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