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  Field Notes From
Gombe



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From Photographer

Anup Shah
 


In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Anup Shah


 

Gombe

Field Notes From Photographer
Anup Shah
Best Worst Quirkiest
    Spending time with the chimpanzees while they rested was calm and peaceful. It was very soothing to be with them in the coolness of the forest, sometimes with Lake Tanganyika in the background. Once they realized I wasn't a threat or something they could eat, they just ignored me and got on with what they were doing. They would climb trees, socialize, feed, sleep, play with their babies, groom, and occasionally have a little bit of disagreement.

    Frodo, the alpha male, wants respect. He's OK as long as he's sure no one is challenging him. But if he has doubts, he makes sure you know who's the boss. The way that's done in chimp society is to beat up the challenger. When Frodo got up and came in my direction, I had to clear out very fast. And being a super athlete, I slipped and fell. Fortunately a tree stopped me from rolling some 330 feet (100 meters) down a steep valley. Apart from my head, I didn't hurt anything. [For more on Frodo, see Frodo: The Alpha Male.]



    My quirkiest moments often came as a surprise. I tried a little bit of the food at the chimp site. The fruits were their favorites, so I bit into a bright cherry. I was expecting it to taste sweet, but it turned out to be bitter. I always found unexpected tastes as I went through the range of food at the site. But I wasn't even tempted to try the ants.



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