Tag Archives: chimpanzee

Jane Goodall speaks from atop a chair at Woburn Safari Park

Forward: This is a long post, but it is my hope that you will make it to the end. Getting the chance to meet someone as inspiring as Jane Goodall is an experience I could not limit to a few hundred words. And although this is a post that may not introduce to you a new species or a conservation crisis, I think that it can introduce you to hope if you will let it.


I arrived exactly one hour early. I stood and watched the meerkats outside of the Woburn Safari Park’s Safari Lodge, biding my time until the doors opened and I could find my seat. Even before seeing Jane Goodall standing a mere 10 feet from me the day was perfect. I had seen my first ever wild pheasant, which could seem silly to many people, but for me it was incredibly exciting. Even the mundane turns magical on the day you get to meet your life-long hero.

Me and Jane
Me and Jane

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Silent chimpanzees

Saturday June 7th, 2014

Today was a devastating blow. We only have a few days left in the field  and we have still not heard a single chimp call or seen a trace of one on a camera trap.

This does not mean that there are no chimpanzees present in the area. We find fresh feeding sites on a daily basis, smell fresh urine and have even been lucky enough to find some feces.

One of our unsuccessful camera traps being set
One of our unsuccessful camera traps being set

 

 

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River Crossings

I am waiting on some photographs from some fellow travelers for my next post, so while I wait I decided to write down my side notes, and tell you a bit about my research project. So let’s begin with some side notes. These are just little things I have written down in my journal that might have belonged with a previous post that I forgot, or if it was a thought or observation that didn’t really belong anywhere:

Driving onto the Freetown Ferry
Driving onto the Freetown Ferry

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Jungle trekking

Sunday, June 1, 2014   Since we arrived in Marokie we have had little downtime that is not about sweating, bathing or fending off eager children. Everything is wet. Everything stays wet. It rains everyday, it is always at 100% humidity and pushing 95º F and you sweat even when it is overcast.

The crew and our little city of tents
The crew and our little city of tents

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Arrival in Lungi

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

 

You see the towns in pictures and documentaries, and you always know you’re lacking something because it’s second hand. Driving through the outskirts of Lungi and seeing how many buildings are crumbling or were never completely built is an overwhelming sight after the clean streets of Schilde. Scraggly chickens and stray dogs run around the brush piles and cooking fires as our car speeds past. The people in torn t-shirts with their bare feet do a double take upon noticing our skin color. The air is thick with the smoke of agricultural fires burning along the side of the road.

Flying into Lungi
Flying into Lungi

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Reflections

Before going into the details of my days spent sweating in the jungles of Sierra Leone in search of chimpanzees I wanted to reflect a little on my trip. Now, it’s true that this is no travel blog, but it was meant to not only teach people about science and conservation, but also to chronicle my journey from confused college freshman to fully fledged primatologist. I think that there is no better way for you, as readers, to understand the realities that come with being a primatologist, conservationist, scientist and woman than to give you an in depth look into what I faced every day in Sierra Leone.
Exhaustion. Since arriving in Belgium after my journey in Africa came to a close I have done little but eat ravenously and sleep. I am both physically and mentally exhausted from eating little but ground nut and rice and trekking through the bush for up to five hours a day. While finally having the opportunity to shower and use a real, flushing, toilet I find being around more than a few people at a time overwhelming. I try to describe to my friends the differences in the culture and attempt to tell stories about the games the village children would play, but explaining that it was an average sight to see the children dancing around and whipping each other with branches was quite normal gets me strange looks.

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Marocki Village fire

Marocki Village needs your help. This village is our partner in the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project and on Earth Day they lost 11 of their homes to a fire, most likely due to agricultural burning. This is a very poor village that is still recovering economically from the civil war.

A before and after of the Marocki Village fire
A before and after of the Marocki Village fire

Even though Earth Day was yesterday, we should be celebrating our Earth every day. If you feel like you did not get to do your part, or if you want to help the wonderful people of the Marocki Village or the endangered chimpanzees please consider donating to this cause.

Marocki Village is a very small village with only about 100 people living there, about half of them are small children. They have been incredibly dedicated to helping with chimpanzee conservation and our research project would not exist without them.

Please consider donating and sharing this cause. The more money we can raise the better off not only the people of Marocki can be, but it will help ensure a better future for chimpanzees.

Marocki Village at sunset. Photo by Benni Litman
Marocki Village at sunset. Photo by Benni Litman