Katie Little

A stunning number of individuals are apathetic to the quality of our environment.  They are woefully ignorant of the breathtaking magic that occurs when nature is allowed to unfold before you.  An infant chimp clinging to its other, a sprawling jungle that comes into view after cresting the summit of a mountain, the free soaring flight of a bird of prey as it glides on the currents of the wind. 

Our words are meant to inspire people, to initiate a sense of stewardship.  A few paltry sentences are hardly enough to convey the magnitude of beauty that is left in the world; however they must be said in an attempt to dispel the ignorance that fetters us from embracing the world as it should be. 

 

 

Mahale

The steady chirping of crickets on the trails of Mahale National Park creates a living hum, like the engine of the forest.  A bird chitters unseen high in the treetops; their branches forming a woven lacework of a ceiling.  Vines cascade from the trees to create a lush tunnel that arches over and around the path.  Other plants reach up from the ground, gripping the vines to unknowingly build a solid leaf wall.  Some light manages to sift through and illuminate the veins of the delicate leaf like a butterfly’s wing.  Emerging from the forest’s portal the path unwinds in front of you; between interlocking tree roots, down mossy builders and over a wooden bridge and gurgling stream.  The sound of wing beats and the cackle of apassing bird draw attention upward to the canopy. 

A fleeting glimpse of the bird overhead dissolves into a rustle of leaves.  Nearby, a different tree also starts to shake.  The slender branches bowed under the weight of something much sturdier than a bird.  The trees shaking were strong enough to unhinge a few leaves.  A brief pause allows one to see the shape of a hand very much like our own curled around the small limb.  A tiny pink face peeps out from behind the clump of leaves high above.  Wide saucer shaped ears frame the chimpanzee’s face and wiry black hair.  Inquisitive soft brown eyes look down from above to investigate the newcomers to the forest.  The inspection didn’t last long however, the small chimp, a youngster, continues his game of bouncing on the high springy branches.  The baby is already a skilled gymnast, using hands and feet to maneuver and treating the forest like his own personal jungle gym, these trees are his trampoline

Natural species like this one is being lost as humans require more land and resources.  Wonderful wild places such as this chimp’s home can only be preserved by respecting the environment and its inhabitants.  The only one who can protect this chimp baby, his family, and other animals like him are those people who are aware of the impact humans have on the environment and care about making responsible choices. 

 

Gombe 

People are moved to love the chimpanzee with their soft, brown eyes and delicate hands that are so like our own.  However, knowledge and understanding enhance the love and make it even more drastically clear how amazing these animals are.  Once you can fathom the depths of their politics and culture, they become all the more breathtaking.  It is one thing to see a powerful, strong animals and be awed by their muscle.  It is another to be able to briefly look into their eyes and see intelligence and methodical decision making taking place on the inside.  This dynamic can be seen all the time in social behavior, how the chimps choose to react to one another. 

In one instance, a young chimp was stuck in a tree and was crying for help; the older brother of this small baby ran over and lifted his sibling in need to safely.  Helping each other is rare in a world dominated by survival of the fittest.  This quality of helping others, of helping family, is a characteristic that links humans and the chimpanzee.  Researchers such as Jane Goodall at Gombe National Park have worked diligently to expand the knowledge we have about chimpanzees, deepen our understanding and also increase our love for our closest genetic relative, the chimpanzee. 

 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.