Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monkeys Like Mary

Mary and I were busy in the kitchen on Saturday morning.  We looked out to see monkeys in the yard, and then one in our radish and strawberry garden.  He was busy pulling out radishes.  I rapped on the window, didn't phase him.  We went to the back patio door, opened the louver windows and I shouted at him.  Still didn't phase him.  But, by then he apparently decided that radishes weren't any good.  Later we found 4 that had been pulled out and left behind.

Almost immediately we had a young monkey on the patio.  Mary quickly grabbed the camera, and started to take photos.  At one point, as the monkey was coming closer I stepped into view, and he retreated a few steps.  I moved back out of sight from the door, and he again moved closer.

Here are some of the photos Mary took.  Apparently she did not intimidate him, at all.

This is looking through the pet door in the patio door.  It is kept locked, for obvious reasons. 

He plucked an orange blossom and was busy tasting it.  In the end, after about 5 minutes of tasting, he discarded it and ran off to the rest of the group.

Fruit Trees!

When we discovered the broken pipe spewing a spring in the back "40" of the yard, I also spied this tree:

Those are papaya.  It might be a race between when it is ripe enough for us to pick, and the monkeys.  But we are keeping our eyes open.

Closer to the house, we found these:

The upper picture was taken about 1 week ago, and lower one yesterday.

If anyone has experience in harvesting either papaya (paw paw in some parts of the world) or bananas, please share.

Tom Underground

The last post I wrote about Tom's work couldn't retain the photos I pulled from the KCM link.  He toured underground the past week (February 15) and they captured a great photo of him on the mancar at the end of his tour.

We wanted to share it with you.  This is a much better picture!  Living in Zambia has been good for Tom.  His "numbers" have improved tremendously all the way around.

Gardening Reborn

After the termite invasion, I asked Richard to completely remove the soil from one of the planters surrounding the patio.  This is the same planter that had all the mushrooms growing.  He removed the soil from all three, and replaced it with "composted" vegetation.  For the most part the soil was okay, but the composted part wasn't.  That just means I have to keep any eye out for unwanted seeds sprouting and pull them out.

In addition we also asked Richard to clean up the lawn area that surrounds the pool.  Along the end fence Tom and I planted some corn and beans.  We didn't have any squash, but perhaps next year so they provide nutritional and physical support for each other.  We do not expect the corn to produce since it was planted in a single row, but wanted it more for a vegetation screen.  If it works, we'll likely plant a double row all around the pool next spring.

Here are photos of our latest gardening efforts.

The upper planter was seeded with mesclun mix lettuce, green onion, romaine, head lettuce, spinach and radish.  This planter does not receive rainfall, which is good considering the tremendous amount and force of the rains.  We also bought some marigolds, also planted here.

Looking from both ends of the same.  Plants at the end of the lower picture are radish.

Along the pool fence, either bush or pole beans.  We planted both.

This is another shot showing the beans and corn coming out of the ground.

When we planted these this centipede or millipede (didn't look that closely) was also present .. the spoon is a large serving spoon, approximately 12" in length, we estimated the bug to be about 4 to 6 inches in length.

Harvesting radishes ...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust Visit, part 3

On the road to the main office, where most visitors go first, we crossed a wide river (no bridge). It was not deep and a friendly young girl, who was busy washing dishes, gave us a friendly smile and waved.  I tried to capture a photo of an older woman (though still young) carrying a large tub full of clean dishes.

We knew we were on the right track with this sign:

When we finally arrived at the main compound and office Susan greeted us.  We followed her into the education building and paid our fees, ZMK 150, and she issued us a written receipt.  This was a compound for workers, with a lot of out buildings, and two huge tents covered with thatched roof shelters.  For a fee visitors can stay at the sanctuary and volunteer.  Other than Sheila, the remaining employees we saw were native to this region.

Leaving with this sign in our minds, we headed back to where the family group enclosures were.

The "main" road we missed turned out to be not as well traveled.  More by instinct than by any signs (lacking) we did find the family enclosures.  There were several signs warning visitors to be aware of chimps throwing rocks.  In fact, at one point the road offered two choices.

We took the left branch as it had the signage.  On the other side, the two roads rejoined at the first main gate.  If you notice the denser areas of foliage, those are some of the chimp nests high in the trees.

A guard met us at the gate, verified we had paid admission, then let us in.  We parked and were met by Felix.  He took us over to visit Christine, a young 7 year old chimp.  The enclosure where she stays does not contain her.  Christine is quite a personality.  She was walking along the top of the building when we first drove up, and dove into the cage with three other larger, older chimps.

Felix told us that she often scoots over to the other side of the road, gets into the family enclosure, despite the electric fence, and enjoys raising havoc, then escapes back to her "home."  Felix brought along a treat, and called Christine over to visit us.  She played as if she were shy at first, but then came over.

 At first she was well behaved, then went to Mary and took her hand with her two hands.  Mary smiled, then Christine got very mischievous.  She tried to pull the blue sweater off of Mary's arm.  When it became evident that this was not friendly, Mary tried to shake her off.  Couldn't, she was very, very strong.  Tom then tried to intervene.  Both Tom and Mary received a bite (no skin broken), and Felix got her away.  She kept trying to get to Mary, who was a bit freaked by this point.  Christine climbed a tree and we walked away.

Felix took us over to see the first family enclosure, telling us they were all gone.  But they weren't.  Another employee brought over food and we watched them gather food, fight a bit, then get down to eating.  Each has its name, and Felix "introduced" us.

After looking at them for a while, Felix told us about their daily routine.  Each morning they are fed nshima (maize meal) for their first meal.  Then about 11 in the morning they come back in, each to their "inside room" for fruits and health inspection.  Because we were there, the keepers fed their afternoon snack of vegetables just a bit earlier.

This little guy, only a year old offered a lot of laughs when Felix jumped up and down and the baby imitated him.   It was evident that the keepers have good relations with the chimps in their care.

The chimps have nests high in the trees where they spend the night.  None of them are inside their concrete house during the evening.  The male chimps were, only because their trees have been destroyed.  It seems not only humans can have negative impact on their environments.

Finishing with the first family enclosure, we drove up to where the second and third ones are located.  Each enclosure is huge!  They are surrounded by a double electric fence, partly to keep the chimps contained, and partly to keep them safe from predators.

This is a huge, huge, huge spider's web, with an even larger ant hill behind.

Fig trees are abundantly loaded, as were several other fruit trees.

Then we met Sandy.  Sandy is a chimp who was raised in a house, somewhere in West Africa.  She was sent to the sanctuary, and because of her exposure to humans screamed whenever another chimp tried to touch her.  The new guide gave her mangos, and told us her story.  They plan to move her back to the caged enclosure where Christine lives when some of those chimps can be moved into one of the three other family groups.  Until then, she is content with staying in her "house" away from the chimps.  The other reason they had to move her was more important.

Sandy is clever enough that she figured out how to take two long poles, lean then against the electric fence and escape.  She never ran away, knowing where her food really came from.  The guide said she just couldn't understand why she was supposed to be where the chimps family is, and not where the humans were.   As chimps are easily taught the sanctuary did not want any more chimps with the ability to leave their enclosure.  Since they are not native to Zambia, it is imperative that none escape beyond the sanctuary enclosures.  The females are also given implants to avoid over populating the family groups.

I didn't take photos of Sandy, somehow it seemed an invasion of her privacy.  Yes, I know, she is just a chimp.  But, when she looked at us, staring deep into our eyes, there was a sense that she was more than just an animal for viewing.  Her keeper talked about how she grooms him whenever he visits.

And fyi, the third family group was deep inside their compound, not coming when their keeper called.

Turning to head back home we started out along the road that parallels the first family enclosure.  A large male was racing along, pacing us.  In the rear view mirror, we could see the guard looked concerned, then we remembered that we had originally taken the other road.  Because at that point we didn't realize the roads came back together, we backed up.  When we told the guard we took the wrong turn he looked very, very pleased and relieved.

It was after we came back to where the two roads converged, that we realized they were the same ones.  And it also occurred to us that perhaps that male chimp got his jollies by pelting cars with rocks!  Fortunately, we weren't a test case.

May I suggest, that if you run into anyone contemplating taking a primate in for a "pet" or "companion" you point them to the Chimfunshi Orphanage and suggest they visit and/or support them, instead.

Finally we turned homeward, and reached the highway where this small group of goats were munching on the other side of the highway.

On the way home we stopped at one of the many vegetable stands.  Tom bought tomatoes, and whether he paid too much or not, all the women and children had huge smiles, and not a few laughs.  We often provide comic relief here!

Back at Chingola, where on this side of the town there is no forgetting the mine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust Visit, part 2

 We stayed on the road, and saw a sign that seemed to read "Camp Sites" "private access only."  We, instead, followed another sign that read "Project".  We came to this building, and found the first indication we might actually be at the "Project."

A worker waved us to a parking spot, then greeted us with a friendly, "I'm Dominic.  Are you visiting for the first time?"

It turned out that we had taken the "old" road, and had arrived at the original orphanage site.  Not a problem.  This afforded us a chance to visit with Sheila Siddle, in her mid 80's, whose farm the orphanage was housed at.

She gave us a nice chat, shared photos of Billy the Hippo, was intrigued that Mary homeschooled, and then gave her a copy of "Billy The Hippo, A true story by Sheila Siddle."  If we had been on our toes I would have taken a photo.  Hopefully in the future we can do so.

Sheila was brought to Zambia with her family in her late teen years, and after marrying she and her husband, the late David Siddle, raised their family and were contacted to help with chimpanzees who were rescued.  About 20 years ago they were also asked to help out with an orphaned hippo who's mother had been killed near Ndola.

Her book is published in Zambia with Mission Press.  In the US the book is published as "Happy Hippo Billy."   Sadly, Billy died last year, cutting short the estimated 40 year life span by half.

Sheila turned us back over to Dominic so he could show us the original Orphanage.  He was a very good guide.  The first place we stopped was to meet this fellow:

Dominic told us that he came from a private home and was not well adapted.  In fact this chimp had been abused, and was afraid of both other animals and humans.  They tried to integrate him with the other chimps, but because he was not dominant was being hurt, so the sad conclusion was that he has to remain in seclusion.  
These next two individuals get along together, but also may never be able to be out with the family groups.  Both were too "humanized" and lacked the survival skills, and social skills necessary to be incorporated back with other chimps.

While you may be put off by the electric fencing, the enclosures are quite vast, except, of course, where it is a concrete house.  This is a small family group, mainly trying to help these chimps learn how to get along.  As I recall they will eventually be placed into the other three groups.  The little guy is about 2 years old.

The sanctuary is, in my opinion, between a bit of a rock and a hard place.  The chimpanzees come to them from around the world.  Some rescued, some retired from circuses and zoos.  Two of the chimps we met (and who have to remain isolated) were found to be cigarette smokers and beer drinkers.  Chimps can receive and give any disease that humans can.  They are also quick learners.  More about that toward the end of these pictures.

As per international agreement they can never accept the chimps for money, nor give any away.  Once a chimp comes to the CWOT they remain for life.  The ownership of part of the trust is in limbo, too, as the German owner has recently died, and nobody really knows what any heirs will do in the future.  The entire trust is private, relying on the small admission fees collected, and donations.

In addition to chimpanzees, and the lone hippo, Sheila and her family take in parrots (also, like the chimps, not native to Zambia.)  Just like the chimps, these can never be traded, sold or given away.  Once they arrive, they remain.  Sheila also showed an injured bush baby in a cage, taking care of it because of a broken leg.  As I said, it is a tough situation.

These next pictures of us going to visit the building pictured at the beginning of this post.  This is where the male chimpanzees are housed.  They have become too dominant, though they all get along together here.

This is a view from the top of the building, looking out over the Kafue River valley.  Dominic told us that the flat green area is more typically covered with water.  This has been a dryer than normal year.  The vegetation in the foreground are the vines overtaking what was left of the tall trees in the male sanctuary.  The chimps like to climb, and chew, effectively killing off the trees.  
 Here are some of the big males.  They are fed in the morning, early and late afternoon.  One of the times they are inspected by staff to ensure each is healthy.  If a problem is detected the staff at the Orphanage take care of it themselves.

Walking back to the car I caught a photo of one of the males scooting along the fence line.  They are well camouflaged!  This fellow is quite old, sporting a silver back.

The inevitable peacock, like at any other zoo. 

Tom is walking back with Dominic, following a young a family who joined us.Their two young boys were thrilled at the white rabbits being kept at this part of the sanctuary.
Back on the road to the "Office."

Closer to the sign, we can see it didn't say "Camps" but "Chimps" 

The next stop was along the road, over a small river, past a small village, and then to the Main Office.