Lucky us – famous Sauda was assigned to be our guide! She has become a bit of a celebrity as she became the first female ranger in Uganda 17 years ago. This bit of news even found its way into the Lonely Planet. The night before our chimps track, it had rained heavily. So when we finally found them in a huge fig tree, most of them where still in their nests, many coughing, feeling cold, wet and miserable… None of them felt coming down. Waiting high up for the sun to dry them off seemed more rewarding.
Only slowly they came alive. Their first activity was to urinate and defecate, never into the nest though. For Sauda, this behavior is another sign of their tremendous intelligence. Once this was accomplished, they were very busy plucking and munching the fruits of the figs tree, spitting leftovers on the ground. Again, these clever animals only pick the ripe fruits, leaving others for later. Baboons, on the other hand, would simply rip everything off and waste it.
The chimps looked rather small and smooth in their movement, but Sauda had a few stories to tell to put this into perspective. A female chimp that got caught in a large heavy iron trap dragged it along for one kilometer until it got tangled up in a swamp and her group left her behind. The three rangers who were called to her rescue had a hard time lifting up the chimp lady.
Chimps can inflict serious bites, or even tear off a limb. Sauda knew of an incidence where a chimp cried after hurting a human it knew. That is how sorry it felt! We just loved listening to Sauda. Her deep and genuine love for the Chimpanzees showed in everything she shared with us.
Thanks to the support of the Jane Goodall Foundation, the camp headquarters features excellent information material to teach the visitors everything about their closest relatives. Three days after our return from Uganda, Jane Goodall was hosting over a fund raising dinner in Vienna and lucky Heidi had the privilege to talk to her. The most amazing woman!