One of the males stood upright to watch more closely. He was a superb specimen, standing about 4 1/2 feet in height, his massive shoulders and bull neck suggesting the tremendous strength in his arms. He must have weighed a good 130 pounds, and he was strong enough to snap with one hand a branch so tough that a man would be hard put to break it with two.
Later I was to learn how it feels to be slammed on the head from behind by a large male chimpanzee, but fortunately for me he did not continue his attack.
After a moment or two, the group stopped looking my way, recognizing me for the strange hairless primate they had grown accustomed to seeing amid the other mountain fauna. The six adults rested on the ground or stretched out along the branches of a wild fig. Nearby, four youngsters played quietly.
I thought then, as I always think when I am face to face with mature chimpanzees in their native forests, of the striking difference between the wild apes and those in captivity. The chimpanzee imprisoned behind bars is bad tempered in maturity, morose, moody, and frequently rather obscene; in his freedom he is majestic even when excited and, for the most part, dignified and good natured.
For about an hour I sat with the group. Then one of the males stood up, scratched thoughtfully, and moved off down the valley. One by one the others followed, the infants riding astride their mothers' backs like diminutive jockeys. The females and youngsters stared at me as they passed. The males scarcely glanced in my direction.