The Chimps Ate It Alive!

It’s kind of like when you take your brother to a party and he gets drunk and behaves poorly.

You’re troubled because you think, “That guy’s more like me than anyone else can ever be. Am I really like that?”

Ape in TreeThis chimp was staring at me so fiercely I couldn’t keep my camera still. I thought at any minute he could race down the tree and attack.

That’s how I felt when I got up close to the chimpanzees in Budongo Forest.

I tried to be generous in evaluating my brothers, but still, I feel what I feel.

They behaved so poorly.

In contrast, the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest were gentle, peaceful, graceful, and majestic.

Chimpanzees were boisterous and aggressive and threatening to each other. They seem to even abuse each other. If they’re stronger… well, might makes right.

John, my guide from the Forest Conservation Authority, told me a scary story. He saw a band of large, muscular, male chimps hunt down a black and white colobus monkey. One held its head while others grabbed all four limbs. The monkey screeched and screeched as the chimps ate it alive!

And here’s the thing that has me… Gorillas are 98.4% the same as us genetically. Chimps are 99.8% the same as we are. That means the chimps are much more like us than the gorillas are.

If I find them savage, unimaginably brutal, and repulsively vulgar, where does that leave me in relation to all my animal kin?

My feelings on the chimps aside, the hike I took to see them was incredible. In fact, I’ve had an amazing time on all my travels through Africa. Every trip I took to see those animals we only sometimes get to see in zoos in the West was worth it.

I went on hikes, treks, trips, and even a cruise to see the rhinos, chimps, the wildlife of the Nile River and then Murchison Falls. Then I took a safari drive to the Victoria Nile delta to see hippos and elephants, and climbed into Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater to meet the lions.

Hippos at riverThe pink color on the hippos comes from a natural sunscreen they secrete. It’s a sticky pink oil that moisturizes them and protects them from the hot African sun. This was about as close as I wanted to get!

In fact, I thought the chimpanzees were mean, but did I tell you about the hippos?

They look sort of bloated and almost lazy, except they are known as the most dangerous animal in Africa.

You wouldn’t think so from looking at them. But all is not as it seems… there was a reason the cruise boat stayed pretty far away.

They’re aggressive, and totally unafraid of people. They’ve been known to knock over boats without being provoked in any way.

Apparently, they are very protective of their “turf” and their families. And since they usually stay close to their mates and calves, female hippos think nothing of going after you or me.

And hippos can run 20 miles an hour. Can you believe that? I don’t want any animal that weighs 8,000 pounds running at me swinging its head and trying to bite mine off.

And did you know hippos have killed more people in Africa than lions? In fact, after the hippos, I was even more excited to see the lions. And I’ll tell you about them next time.