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Flo Shows Her Trust in Human Friends

At last the rain eased off. Hugo got some bananas, and Flo, seeing the fruit, swung down from the tree. Cuddling her baby between belly and thigh, she came toward us on three limbs, followed by little Fifi and jaunty Figan. Pressing the infant to her chest with one hand, Flo calmly took a banana.

Presently the baby, whom we later christened Flint, let loose of Flo's hair with one hand, stretched out his tiny pink fingers, and gripped on again. Then he moved his head so that we saw the pale-skinned face, the dark brilliant eyes, and the funny little one-sided mouth before he nuzzled back into Flo's hair. He began to nurse rhythmically and loudly while Flo chewed her bananas.

The moment was unforgettable; we were filled with amazement that a wild chimpanzee mother trusted us enough to bring her baby close to us. When the bananas were finished, Figan led his mother, sister, and new brother back into the mountains. As soon as they vanished between the trees, Hugo and I danced around the tent pole.

"Happy?" asked Hugo, not needing an answer.

We celebrated beside the campfire that night, enjoying one of Dominic's wonderful curries. Next day we settled down into our routine at the reserve.

The rain drummed down day after day, and fungi attacked the lenses of Hugo's cameras, one after the other. Our supplies began to run short, for floods had submerged the railway line from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma, the little port 16 miles down the lake. In the end we had no butter, no sugar, no mail, and very little of anything else.

It was to these sorry conditions that we welcomed our new Dutch assistant, Edna Koning, who came on the last train to reach Kigoma for three months. Edna had read my first article in National Geographic and made up her mind to work for me. Living then in Peru, she scraped together her own fare to Africa.

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