Not all those who wander are lost - but I'll be disappointed if I don't get lost frequently!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Chimp Island

Today I learnt what the four great apes were:

1. Gorillas
2. Orangutans
3. Bonobos
4. Chimpanzees

It was this last species that I had the pleasure of visiting at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The sanctuary is on a small island in the middle of Lake Victoria, and is the home to 48 orphaned chimps (except for one, called Surprise, who was born on the island when her mother's contraceptives failed). The chimps are brought to the island after being confiscated from the illegal pet trade or bushmeat trade.

It was an epic journey to get to the island, involving another 6.30am start, so only 5 of us were game enough to do it. It was pissing down with rain when we woke, too wet to make brekky, so chocolate biscuits had to suffice. It took over an hour to get to Entebbe, where we then hopped on a boat to take us to the island.

It was still pissing down, and the lake was very rough, and it was quite a bouncy boat ride. It was often quite jarring when the boat would crest a high wave then crash down on the other side. I was afraid I was going to get seasick, but luck prevailed and I avoided feeding the fish.

We got to view the chimps have their morning feeding, which was fruit salad. I couldn't get over how human some of the chimps mannerisms are. The chimps would put their hand up in the air when they had finished a piece of fruit to indicate to the keeper to throw them more. If the keeper was too slow at chucking another piece of fruit, they would clap their hands impatiently. There is an electric fence that separates the sanctuary from the workers/visitors area, and as it is quite high, quite a few times the fruit hit the fence and fell to the ground outside. The cleverer chimps got longs sticks, which they stuck under the fence to pull the fruit back through to them. Very impressive. We even saw one of the chimps do a fist pump when she finally got a difficult piece of fruit through the fence. Vicki has video evidence of this!

Given the amount of money we paid for the chimp island visit, we didn't get to spend that much time with the chimps themselves. But the admission money goes towards running the sanctuary, so I don't really mind as it was for a good cause.

The rest of the day was chilled. We had a long boat and can ride back to camp, and we all napped for most of it. Arriving back at camp at 2.30pm, we had a late lunch at the camp bar. Hand washing followed a locker clean out and organisation.

Those who didn't come with us to the chimps had a free day in Kampala city, and they slowly straggled in around 6ish. Malcolm let the few of us around know that everyone that their visas for Rwanda had successfully come through, but he was confused as to why Dave's had taken so long. This led to Dave explaining that he may be on an Interpol list for an incident a few years ago in the UK. It was one of the funniest stories I've ever heard in my life.... As its being told you can't believe it could get any better but I was proven wrong with every sentence that came out of Dave's mouth. I won't repeat it here, but even though it happened 4 years ago, Dave won the Numpty award for the day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam, sounds like you are having a blast. Can we see any photos on this blog ??. thanks for the updates makes me feel like i am touring along with you. ha ha. xx Stay safe. love mum