How to Find a Chimpanzee Colony [Video]

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This post courtesy BBC Earth and the Deadly 60 Team. For more wildlife news, find BBC Earth on Facebook and Posterous.

Waking at dawn and trekking into the forest to meet one of the most intelligent species on the planet is a dream for many people. And for Steve it was exactly that: A dream come true. But since chimpanzees have around five times the upper body strength of a typical human male, Steve had to tread carefully. Luckily, he had his trusty team and an experienced escort on side to ensure that this close up encounter was anything but deadly.

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives and are likely the most intelligent non-human animal. In East Africa, the chimpanzee is found in the wild in Tanzania and Uganda, where Steve and the team went in search of them. Chimps are found in rainforests and wet savannas living in communities which can number anywhere from 10 to more than 100 individuals sharing a home range, which can cover thousands of acres. Chimps spend much of the time moving through the forest in search of fruiting trees, making them difficult to find and follow.

Here’s how our team tracked them down:

  • The right location: They opted to go to Kibale National park, the most accessible of Uganda’s major rainforests.
  • The right guides: The deadly crew were escorted by Uganda Wildlife Authority guides, who were familiar with the parks and the chimpanzees.
  • Habituated chimps: Kibale is home to “habituated” chimps—meaning that they are used to seeing people and more likely to tolerate the team following and watching them.
  • Monitored chimps: The habituated group are part of a scientific study in Kibale where field staff conduct daily behavioral observations on a group of about 50 chimpanzees. This meant our team could be taken to the chimps because the guides knew where they had spent the previous night.

Here are the other places in Uganda you can see and track chimpanzees through organized tours:

For more great tips and moving moments, check out the Deadly Diaries, direct from Steve and the Deadly 60 Team.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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