RATHER STIFF-JOINTED but very, very glad to be back, we jumped ashore from the small boat that had brought us the last miles along Lake Tanganyika. An April storm threatened, and we hurried to stow our luggage and equipment under canvas at the old familiar lakeside camp.
With a sudden rush the tropical rain poured down. We were just moving everything out of the way of water that streamed through a tear in the tent, when my husband Hugo gripped my arm and pointed.
"It's the Flo family," I breathed, hardly able to believe what I saw. Three sodden chimpanzees huddled in a small fig tree opposite the tent. There was tough old Flo with seven-year-old Figan and little Fifi, just four and a half. Then, as we watched, Flo lifted a hand—and there were not three chimps, but four! It was only a glimpse, but we could clearly see the tiny black infant clinging to its mother's warm dry belly.
Baby Hastens Return to Chimpland
A brief message in Swahili had brought us hurrying back from London to Tanzania's Gombe Stream Game Reserve beside Lake Tanganyika. For four years, on the grassy ridges and in the forested valleys there, we had been learning intimate details of the life and ways of wild chimpanzees.
"Flo amekwisha kuzaa," said the letter from our cook Dominic, who looked after the camp in our absence, "Flo has had her baby."
We had not been able to return immediately. I had to finish my term at Cambridge University, and we had a rather important engagement on March 28, 1964, in London—Hugo and I were married. Limiting our honeymoon to three days, we rushed back to East Africa to see the new chimpanzee infant.
Now as we sat there—the chimps, Hugo, and I—waiting for the rain to stop, I recalled the early, arduous days, with this same old tent as my shelter, when the chimps scattered in fright before the strange hairless primate who had invaded their territory.
But gradually they had accepted me, and I had begun to fill in the pattern of their behavior. I had discovered how the chimpanzees, as they search the mountains for food, travel in small temporary groups based mainly on personal friendships, sleeping like true nomads where dusk finds them.
Of major importance had been the discovery that these chimpanzees use, and even make, crude tools for capturing and eating termites and ants. And finally, we had witnessed and recorded on motion-picture film the remarkable stylized display that we have called a "rain dance".
Only after months of observation, however, had I begun to understand the subtleties of the relationships between individuals and the complexities of chimpanzee communication.
This had first become possible thanks to David Greybeard, who had come to my camp in 1962 and accepted a banana from my hand. To share his good fortune, his friends had followed, first Goliath and William and then others, including Flo and her children.
Then had come the day, after four years of preoccupation with her daughter Fifi, when Flo had become sexually attractive again. She was trailed into camp by a retinue of 15 males, who mustered up courage to grab some bananas. Thereafter they returned again and again.
At this point we realized what a splendid arrangement we had hit upon—being able to make regular observations, in one location, of the various individuals of this nomadic community. Thus the Banana Club, begun so casually, developed into an organized feeding system that yielded results of major scientific significance. One of the most important was to be our continuous record of the development of the new baby now so unbelievably close to us, nestled on his mother's lap.
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.
I had met Edna briefly before she reached the reserve, but there was much still to tell her about the work she was to do. On her first evening we talked for hours.
Edna longed to know more about the chimps. "I'm so looking forward to meeting David, William, and Goliath," she said.
We had to tell her William was no more—dear old William, clown of chimpland, with drooping lower lip and scarred upper one. His cough had become steadily worse, and then he stopped coming. After eight weeks we gave up hope—we never saw him again.
Hugo brought out our "portrait gallery" of chimpanzee photographs to show Edna how the individual faces differ.
"You'll probably find that they all look much alike at first," he told her, "but after a while you'll identify each of them easily."
"You can also recognize a chimp by the way he walks and by his voice," I added. "Each has completely individual traits."
Slowly we turned the pages of the album, pausing at the more important characters.
"He shouldn't be hard to recognize," said Edna, pointing to a picture of Mr. McGregor. "He looks as if he has a monk's tonsure."
Indeed, with his bare crown and bald neck and shoulders and his fondness for walking upright, Mr. McGregor looks rather like a strange old man of the forest.
We came to a picture of Mr. Worzle—one of the most unusual chimpanzees we have known. Mr. Worzle has eyes resembling those of man. In other chimps that part of the eyeball surrounding the iris is heavily pigmented and brown; in Mr. Worzle's eyes it is white, as in a human's.
Flo Popular Despite Her Ugliness
Finally we showed Edna pictures of some of the females and youngsters: Melissa, Olly and her two children, and finally Flo. As always, Flo stole the show.
"How can she possibly be so ugly!" cried Edna. She found it hard to believe that old Flo was the group's most popular female.
Flo really is ugly. She is so old that her teeth are worn down to the gums. She has a deformed, bulbous nose, a ragged ear with a great piece torn out, and hardly any chin at all. Yet she has as much character as a whole platoon of the other chimps.
Flo has four offspring in all, and the bond among these five is not dissimilar to that in a human family. There is, of course, this difference: Chimps are promiscuous, and the father is not a part of the family.
Soon after Edna arrived, we decided to move our camp half a mile or so up the Kakombe Stream valley. We felt that chimps visiting us would be more at ease if we lived apart from our African staff. We would also be far from the beaches where fishermen bring in nightly catches of sardine-size fish called dagaa and spread them out to dry.
Hugo and I found a clearing with a superb view of the opposite slopes. A kind of jungle paradise, it was set about with candelabra trees aglow with red blossoms. Brilliant sunbirds sipped nectar from the blooms.
Our move was memorable—clearing undergrowth from the tent sites, hacking a path through the 14-foot-tall grass, portaging equipment. Everything had to be done after dark, lest we disturb the chimps.
Then, when all was in order, we had the problem of acquainting the chimps themselves with the new arrangements. I shall never forget how Hugo accomplished this.
I had gone to New Camp early, hoping to attract the attention of any chimps passing by. At 9 a.m. I switched on my walkie-talkie and spoke to Hugo, down at Old Camp.
"Hello, can you hear me? Over."
"Hear you loud and clear," came Hugo's muffled answer. "There are lots of chimps here...." His voice faded and then picked up again, confused by static: ". . . buzz . . . buzz . . . Goliath . . . buzz . . . Flo." Then, very clear: "Shall I try to lead them up?"
I agreed halfheartedly—it didn't sound like the sort of scheme that would work.
The trail from Old Camp to the new one leads up a steep, skiddy slope, over a ridge, along the level, and then dips down to our tents. It is normally a 15-minute walk. Imagine my surprise, therefore, about five minutes after I had switched off my walkie-talkie, when I heard a bedlam of chimp screams and yells and Hugo's frenzied voice.
Up over the top of the hill came my husband, running as never before, carrying a wooden box and shouting something about bananas. Close behind him bounded 14 chimpanzees, all with their hair on end and screaming with excitement.
Quickly I grabbed an armful of bananas and strewed them on the ground. With screams of delight the horde charged past Hugo and hurled themselves upon the fruit.
I hurried out of the way, for the big males—Goliath and J. B. (John Bull), Mike and David Greybeard—had reached a high level of excitement. Agitated chimpanzees, each one far stronger than a man, are potentially dangerous: There is always the outside chance that they will attack.
When Hugo had got back his breath, he told me how, at Old Camp, he had carried one of our banana boxes past the group of chimps. When a little distance away, he had thrown one banana, tilted the box in a way that suggested it was full, and then had begun to run up the steep trail.
It was dear, trusting David Greybeard who at once let loose screams of delight and hurried after Hugo, closely followed by the mob of keyed-up chimps.
"It was my one horror," Hugo told me, "that the chimps would catch up and find out that the box was really empty!"
As we had hoped, the chimps were immediately more relaxed and confident when they visited us at New Camp. Previously it was they who had dared to trespass upon human territory; now the role was reversed, and it was we who had moved into the chimpanzees' territory, their forest home.
Chimps Wander Widely After Rains End
Gradually the rains let up. The sun began to steam out the moisture of seven months of downpours, until the ground was hard and the grass became yellowed and brittle.
The chimpanzees began to take their siesta on the warm dry ground instead of stretched out along branches or curled up in nests in the trees. As the dry season advanced, they ranged farther afield, seeking the wild figs or plums that ripened in first one and then another fertile valley.
I often went off in search of the nomads, roaming over my old haunts. I found them, familiar faces and unfamiliar ones, feeding in happy, noisy groups, or paying court to some attractive female. Two other chimpanzees were born during this period. Neither mother, we believe, had had a baby before.
Melissa, although she handled her baby efficiently, seemed to regard him as a handicap. She showed her irritation when Goblin grabbed onto hair in the wrong places. When he kept slipping from her lap, she seldom bothered to cradle him so that he could sleep, and she often pushed him aside roughly if he interfered with what she was doing.
Mandy, on the other hand, was the most solicitous of mothers. Her first concern was always to see that little Jane was comfortable or gripping on securely. It was indeed tragic that Mandy, as I shall relate, was destined to lose her baby after only three months.
Letter Stolen While Being Written
We continued to hand out bananas at Old Camp, where we had left our staff and kitchen, until all the chimps were acquainted with the new. That this happened quickly was not really surprising. The chimpanzee continually roams the forest in search of food. And every year the food pattern is different—many trees fruit plentifully only every other year, and seasonal variations greatly influence the time when the various foods are available. So the "fruiting" of bananas in a different place (of course, we imported them to the reserve by the boatload) seemed natural enough to the chimps. Soon even the more timid began to lose their fear of us.
Sometimes this made living a little difficult. For one thing, more and more of our group of some 45 chimps plucked up sufficient courage to enter our tents—and each one was a prospective thief. All chimps love to suck cloth and chew cardboard or paper. Ours had a special fondness for tea towels—but they had to be soiled ones!
Then there was the day my mother, who joined us for three months, was peacefully writing a letter. "Suddenly," she told us, "a hairy hand darted through the tent opening and—presto—the letter was gone. I peered around the flap, and there sat Figan with a soggy ball of chewed-up paper on his lip."
Luckily, despite the chimps' passion for sucking cloth, they do not normally covet the clothes on our backs. Once, however, when I was alone in the forest, a big male approached me and began to pull at my shirt. Because it would not come loose, the chimp's hair began to stand on end, and he tugged again. I had just started to undo the buttons when all at once he became resigned, sat peacefully beside me, and began to suck gently on one corner of the shirt.
Boiled Eggs Perplex Mr. McGregor
Mr. McGregor has a passion for birds' eggs. Normally, he cracks an egg in his mouth, stuffs in a handful of leaves, and then sucks and chews on the "egg salad." I well remember the day he stole six chicken eggs which Edna had just cooked. Poor Mr. McGregor! Having cracked the first egg, he waited, with an expression of mounting bewilderment, for the delicious fluid to run into his mouth. But nothing happened, the egg being hard-boiled!
After a moment he spat the salad into his hand and peered at it. Then he discarded the leaves, picked a fresh supply, and tried again. He went through the whole performance at least four times. With each successive egg, he stuffed in ever greater quantities of leaves, until he was surrounded by fragments of whites and yolks and mounds of half-chewed greenery. I think it was with relief that Mr. McGregor returned to eating bananas, leaving us weak with laughter.
When frustrated or excited, chimps often perform "charging" displays. They rush along, dragging fallen or broken-off branches, throwing rocks or sticks, leaping up to sway branches, stamping or slapping the ground.
Now they discovered that chairs and tables were ideal for dragging, kettles and other small objects wonderful for throwing, and tent poles and guy ropes excellent for swaying. On one occasion Goliath charged through our tent, leaping up at one pole after the other. The tent collapsed. After that we used thick tree trunks sunk in concrete for tent poles!
Many chimps displayed with our belongings, but only Mike used them in a way that effected a drastic change in his own social standing.
The year before we set up New Camp, Goliath, J. B., and Leakey were the top-ranking males. Mike, though just as big, ranked low in status. We didn't know why, but he was constantly attacked or threatened by nearly all other males. When we left the reserve at year's end, Mike was cowed and nervous, flinching at every movement or sound.
On our return we found a different Mike: He was feared by every individual in the community. We shall never be sure, but it seems likely that by leaving empty kerosene cans lying about, we ourselves had helped his rise to power. He had learned to throw and drag these cans along the ground, and they made a tremendous noise.
Mike often walked to the tent while a group of chimps was resting peacefully nearby, selected a can from the veranda, and carried it outside. Suddenly he would begin to rock slightly from side to side, uttering low hoots. As soon as the hooting rose to a crescendo, he was off, hurling his can in front of him. He could keep as many as three cans in play, one after the other.
Chimpanzees as a rule hate loud noise—except for their own screams—and so Mike, with his strange display, frightened the others. We ourselves grew to dislike his behavior and hid all cans. But by that time, if artificial props had indeed raised Mike's rank, he had no more need of them. The other chimps, at his approach, would pant nervously and bow to the ground, acknowledging his dominance.
Back in 1960 I discovered that the Gombe chimps use grass stalks, twigs, and sticks as primitive tools for feeding on termites and ants. Now we found another exciting new tool use among these apes.
I vividly recall the day, deep in the forest, when Hugo and I for the first time saw this tool used. Young Evered was sitting idly in a tree. Other chimps were resting nearby. By chance we noticed Evered reach out, pick a handful of leaves, and put them in his mouth.
"Look!" said Hugo. "Whatever is he doing?"
Evered Makes a Drinking "Sponge"
As we watched, Evered took the leaves out of his mouth in a crumpled, slightly chewed mass. Holding them between first and second fingers, he dipped them into a little hollow in the trunk beside him. As he lifted out the mashed greenery, we saw the gleam of water.
Our eyes opened wide as we watched Evered suck the liquid from the leaves!
Again he dipped his homemade "sponge" into the natural bowl of water, and again he drank. He had cleverly modified a natural object to adapt it to a specific use. A new tool!
Since that day we have seen other chimps drink in the same way, when they could not reach the water with their lips—and always, like Evered, they briefly chew the leaves before sopping up the drink.
It is the initial crumpling that adds the sophisticated touch, for in this way the leaves' absorption is increased. In another part of Africa a chimp has been seen dipping his fingers into a water bowl and licking off the drops. We compared finger-dipping with the use of crushed leaves and found the "sponge" eight times more efficient.
We have also seen the chimpanzees using leaves for yet another purpose: They often wipe themselves clear of any sticky or unpleasant substance—mud, blood, food residue. Mothers usually wipe themselves immediately with handfuls of leaves if they are accidentally dirtied by their babies.
Thus the chimpanzee puts to good use many of the objects of his environment: sticks and stems to probe for insects as food, and leaves for drinking and wiping himself.
He also uses sticks and stones as means of enhancing his excitement displays and, very rarely, as weapons. In this context, I have been surprised that the Gombe Stream chimpanzees have not developed aimed throwing for attack and defense. We have seen chimps aim and throw objects on very few occasions—and even then only two of the missiles were large enough to have caused damage had they hit their objective.
In some scientific circles a controversy turns on the question of whether early man first used objects as tools or as weapons. One certainly cannot draw concrete conclusions from this chimpanzee community. But the examples I have given amply demonstrate that these chimps, though seldom using objects as weapons, have reached a high level of development in selecting and manipulating objects for use as tools.
Young Chimps Delight in Toys
Some objects are put to yet another purpose—they serve as toys, because wild chimpanzee offspring, just like human children, love to play with objects as well as each other. Their forest home provides some wonderful playthings. One is the round hard-shelled fruit of the Strychnos tree, about the size of a tennis ball. Young chimps often play with these, but it was Figan who perfected the art. Lying on his back, he rotated the fruit round and round, balancing it on his hands and kicking gently with his feet, like a bear in a circus.
Perhaps the most bizarre toy was a dead rat that Fifi dragged along behind her by its tail, watching it over her shoulder as a child watches a pull-toy on wheels.
Young chimpanzees in the wild are quite as playful as they are in captivity. As they grow older, free animals play far more often than do their more restricted relatives in zoos. Even adults play from time to time: I once saw a youngster chasing J. B. around a tree for 20 minutes. Big fat J. B., normally so crusty, was making the panting sounds of chimp laughter as he ran. And Figan, lusty adolescent Figan, actually played with us, rolling about on the ground as we tickled him.
Problems of the Growing Male
Adolescence for chimpanzees, as for humans, is a trying time. For the male chimp, puberty begins at seven or eight years. At this age he starts to leave his mother for longer and longer periods, although throughout adolescence he frequently returns to her.
Within his family group the status of the young male gradually improves. His mother begs for food from him instead of snatching it. If he flies into a rage, she screams and runs off instead of ignoring him.
Outside the family circle, however, the social life of the growing chimp becomes more difficult. As a juvenile he was seldom threatened or attacked, but now he must learn to behave with respect and caution toward older individuals. And so adolescent males, seldom at ease among their elders, tend to spend more and more time on their own.
I remember one occasion when young Pepe arrived at New Camp alone at dusk. Since many chimps are uneasy in the presence of people other than ourselves, our African helpers always waited on the ridge in the evening until we blew a whistle signaling that the chimps had gone. This night Dominic and Anyango had already arrived to clean up, bring us supper, and replenish our banana supply.
Pepe, however, paid little attention to the routine activity. Not until his last banana was finished, and he was visible only by lamp and moonlight, did he seem to realize that night had fallen. Suddenly nervous in the darkness and all alone, Pepe hurried to a palm tree and climbed up—a dark shape barely visible in the moonlight. As he pulled fronds down and bent them beneath him for his nest, he whimpered softly to himself.
In three minutes his bed was ready and he lay down, still whimpering. Then, as though to bolster his morale, he gave little hooting calls which, though tremulous, seemed to give him confidence, for Pepe cried no more. The lonely young male went to sleep while we tackled the usual mountain of paper work amid the symphony of the African night—the eternal chirping of crickets and peeping of tree frogs.
By October we three were all so exhausted that we added another helper to our staff: Sonia Ivey joined us as an assistant secretary to help us keep up to date an ever-growing record of chimpanzee behavior.
We were amused and delighted to find, at the end of the year, that the bulkiest record belonged to the smallest chimp—Flint. He is the first wild-born chimpanzee infant whose development has been studied in detail, for we were able to keep almost daily records of his behavior from six weeks of age onward.
Fifi Tries to Be a Baby Sitter
A fascinating aspect of Flint's early life was the changing relationship between him and his five-year-old sister Fifi. At first, Fifi was always wanting to touch or play with Flint. Hurrying over to Flo, she would reach out to hold Flint's hand or foot, or gently attempt to groom or tickle him.
Then, as Flint grew older, Fifi began to try to pull him away from his mother. At this stage Flo was quick to disengage or push Fifi's hand away or to distract her daughter by tickling or grooming her.
At three months, Flint was able to pull himself about on his mother's body. His first two teeth came through—he was growing up.
Fifi now redoubled her efforts to steal Flint, and finally we saw her succeed. While Flo was resting, with Flint cradled between arm and body, Fifi, with repeated cautious tweaks of the infant's foot, inched him away from his mother. Then, with infinite care, she settled the precious burden onto her lap, sitting very still and very close to Flo.
Soon Flint gave a tiny whimper, and Flo gathered him to her breast. But as the days passed, Fifi was allowed to take the baby more often and keep him longer.
None of the young chimps could approach Flint without angering his sister. If little three-year-old Gilka, for instance, came to peer at Flint, Fifi, hair bristling with fury and arms flailing, would chase her off.
Baby Brother Begins to Grow Up
But Flint was a living, growing creature, and soon he developed a mind of his own. Sometimes he wriggled away from his sister to seek contact with other individuals or to climb and play on low branches.
I remember one occasion that seemed to mark the beginning of a new era. Fifi had taken Flint when he was asleep and carried him some distance from Flo. But Flint was growing, getting heavier, and seemed to hurt her as he clutched her hair.
Fifi reached around and pulled away first one little hand and then the other, but Flint promptly gripped on again. Finally, for the first time on record, Fifi carried the infant back to his mother, sat down, and pushed him in Flo's direction.
At about this time, October, the termiting season began. Fifi, a keen termite fisher, became irritated when Flint kept grabbing her grass tool, scattering the delicious insects clinging to it. She pushed him roughly away. Then, for the first time, the other youngsters were allowed to play with Flint.
So, as the months passed, we watched Flint change from a helpless baby to a small chimpanzee with a personality of his own.
Meanwhile we watched the magnificent Faben approaching social maturity at 12 or 13 years of age. Gradually we concluded that Faben was, in fact, Flo's eldest son. This became clear as we watched these two grooming each other, observed Faben touching the infant Flint when others were forbidden, and noted this young male letting Flo take bananas ahead of him. Above all, we saw these two hasten repeatedly to each other's aid.
Old Flo is quick to hurry to the defense of any of her children, and I think the baboons, also residents of the Gombe Reserve, are more afraid of her than of any other chimp. Sometimes baboons hang around our camp, hoping for a banana. If Fifi or Figan is threatened, Flo will charge fearlessly at the largest baboon, stamping and slapping on the ground until the offender takes to its heels. Her courage and character give Flo high rank in chimpanzee society, and many of the other females and even the younger adolescent males show her great respect.
Adult Chimps Prey on Young Baboons
We knew the ways of nature are strange, but it was still a shock to learn that chimpanzees will eat baboon if they get the chance, despite the fact that the young often play together. Once we watched a group of chimps unsuccessfully stalk a young baboon that had strayed from its troop. Then the following year I saw Faben pulling the last pieces of flesh from the skull of an adolescent baboon. However, the most common chimpanzee prey is monkey—often the red colobus—and the young of bushbuck and bushpig.
Previously, scientists believed that chimpanzees were almost exclusively herbivorous, only rarely indulging in a rodent or a lizard. But our observations here in the Gombe Stream Reserve indicate that they occasionally supplement their diet with raw meat from game animals, considering it a great delicacy.
One day I followed Flo and Figan and Fifi (and of course baby Flint) to a part of the forest that I love, and where, I suspected, they hoped to make a kill. Instead of small game, they encountered buffalo—one of the most dangerous animals in Africa! The herd must have caught my scent, for it stampeded.
The crashing stopped as suddenly as it had begun. I climbed a small tree and spotted two of the big animals. They stood motionless, but the switching of their tails gave them away. Twice more they stampeded, senselessly, before finally moving off into the forest.
Flint was 11 months old at that time, and he came tottering toward me when I climbed down to the ground. Flo looked on benignly as I held my hand toward him. (Two months earlier she would have hurried to snatch her son away.) I tickled him for a moment, then a dead palm frond happened to fall, and at the sound the baby went rushing back to his mother. Flo was still the center of his world, and only in her embrace could he find real security and comfort.
This need for physical contact persists into adulthood. A nervous or worried chimp often reaches out to touch another. When a subordinate encounters a superior, he frequently lays his hand, ingratiatingly, on the other's back. A youngster who has been attacked or threatened crouches in submission until he has been touched or patted by the aggressor—indeed, he may even plead for this reassurance, holding out his hand.
In his need for physical contact the chimpanzee is not unlike man himself. Chimpanzees pat each other on the back, embrace, kiss, and even, quite commonly, hold hands. Mutual grooming, with its prolonged close contact, is one of the most important social activities.
Chimpanzees, like humans, usually greet one another after a separation. Some greetings are remarkably similar to our own. When the great Mike approaches, the others hurry forward to pay their respects, bowing or reaching out toward him. Mike may touch them briefly with his hand, or he may simply sit and stare. In a frustrated mood, he frequently hits out at a subordinate who comes to greet him.
The first greeting "kiss" that we saw occurred when Figan, still a juvenile, rejoined his mother after a day's separation. He approached Flo in his typical cocky fashion and brushed her face with his lips. How similar to the peck on the cheek that is all a human mother can expect from a growing son!
Hand-holding as a greeting does occur, although not often. Melissa, arriving in a group, sometimes holds out her hand toward a dominant male until reassured by the touch of masculine fingers.
Perhaps the most spectacular of greetings is the mutual embrace. Hugo and I witnessed a classic instance between David and Goliath.
Goliath was sitting when David came plodding along the path. Catching sight of each other, the two friends ran together and stood upright face to face, all their hair on end. They looked magnificent as they swaggered slightly from foot to foot before flinging their arms around each other with small screams of pleasure and excitement.
Tragedy Befalls Mandy's Baby
Strangely, despite the complex communicatory system of the chimpanzee, a baby that is hurt or injured cannot always convey this fact to its mother. Even if it can, the adult seems unable to cope with the situation.
Once, a large biting ant fastened itself to Flint's lip. For about 20 minutes he cried and wriggled in pain, but Flo merely cradled him more comfortably and hugged him close. She seemed quite unaware of the cause of his distress, although the ant was clearly visible. The poor infant endured the pain until finally his struggles dislodged the insect.
One other example I still find painful to recall. One afternoon a big group came down the slope toward camp. As they drew closer, we heard an infant screaming in agony. When we finally saw Mandy with her wounded baby, little Jane, we felt suddenly cold and sick. All the flesh from the inner part of the infant's left forearm had been torn away and hung in bloody strips. The arm was obviously broken; the bones and tendons were exposed.
The accident obviously had just occurred—how, we shall never know. There was no hope; if we had tried to help, Mandy would have fled with Jane, and trapping them might have provoked trouble from the other chimps.
The infant turned to the only comfort that she knew—her mother's breast. But the warm milk did nothing to ease the agony; her eyes were glazed with suffering and bewilderment.
Mandy was nervous and at a loss. She hurried to bow to one of the big males, and little Jane's wounded arm hit the ground. She gave another heart-rending cry of pain. Mandy's only response was to hug the baby closer, thus making the infant scream even more.
The tears were streaming down my face, yet I forced myself to watch. Not once did Mandy examine the wound or lick it or seem to try to ease the infant's pain. Perhaps because of fright, she seemed to ignore her child.
Two days later we saw Mandy, way up the opposite hill, lay aside her dead baby and turn to groom a companion. Somewhere high in the hills the mother finally abandoned her sad burden.
New Buildings Aid Chimp Research
Since little Jane's death, three more babies have been born—two during the visit of three members of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration: Dr. Leonard Carmichael, Dr. T. Dale Stewart, and Dr. Melvin M. Payne. Unfortunately, neither mother showed herself at the time.
But we could show our guests foundations for three semipermanent buildings which, thanks to a Society grant, have since been erected. We placed them still farther inland beyond New Camp.
When Hugo and I left the reserve in March, 1965, we felt that our ambition—the continuation of research at the Gombe Stream Game Reserve on a long-term basis—was beginning to be realized. The buildings were finished. Edna and Sonia were staying to continue the all-important scientific records.
Of the reports that have come to me from Africa since we returned to England, most exciting was a cryptic message phoned me in July by an obviously puzzled voice from the cable office: "Passion daughter 13th."
What this reported was the birth, on July 13, of a daughter (we have named her Pomegranate) to Passion, one of the Gombe Reserve females. Little Pom is the fifth infant born in our group since Flint arrived on the scene.
David Reassures a Human Friend
I estimate that at least another decade of work will be required on the Gombe Stream chimpanzee community to obtain definitive life histories and behavior records. We firmly believe that a complete understanding of the social activities of the chimpanzee will prove of inestimable value to better assessment of much of our own human behavior.
One incident points strikingly to the fact that some of the gestures used by both man and chimpanzee either have a common origin or have evolved along closely parallel lines. For on this particular occasion my old friend David Greybeard actually communicated with me, by a chimpanzee gesture.
I was following David away from camp, back into the mountains. I had the feeling that David almost appreciated my company, for several times he waited while I scrambled after him through some tangle of vegetation.
Deeper and deeper we went into the forest. David lay and slept and then got up and plodded along toward the murmur of a mountain stream. Side by side on its bank, we drank from the clear water.
I spied a red ripe palm nut on the ground and held it out to my companion on the flat of my hand. He glanced at my offering but turned away. Then, as I held it nearer, he deliberately reached out, laid his hand over mine, and taking the nut between his thumb and palm he gently squeezed my hand, curling his fingers under mine. It was at least ten seconds before he released my hand from his firm warm clasp; and then, with a last glance at the nut, he dropped it to the ground.
Yet I had been reassured by the soft pressure of David's fingers that, although he disdained my gift, he had not misinterpreted my gesture in offering it to him.