Stephanie Scheble

The world is filled with amazing ecosystems.  The interconnected system of plants and all types of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, even bacteria, and many others.  They all depend on each other and we all depend on them.  The simplest example is the air we breathe without the amazing biomass of our forests and the algae in the sea, we would not be alive.  There are countless other examples, some still left to find and this should be the reason for us to protect our world environment for all to use and enjoy.  We should take in to consideration our actions and how they affect the environment.

 

Mahale 

When we entered Kigoma, a small town in Africa, our guide Sixtus, asked us if we were excited to meet our cousins.  We went to Mahale and came to find out what he meant.  The chimpanzees of Mahale are our cousins, in fact, they really are our family.  For three days, we woke up in the morning and in our own troup we hiked the slippery slopes of the mountains of Kuai to our family reunion, of sorts. 

Here we learned and saw how our other family lived.  The chimps used seeds and leaves to cure upset stomachs.  They made nests out of leaves and branches of the trees.  The chimps were able to show us how they ate, slept, fought and helped each other.  All of these things are things we did as well.  Once, not long ago, we formed communities like these chimps and in a asimilar forest, learned everything that has helped make us human. 

The chimps depend heavily on their environment; every foraging spot is different each day, one day in a marsh, the next eating fruit in a tree and after that, traveling in the mountains high in the clouds.  Their forest is very important to them and their way of life.  However, the only ape that can protect their home is us, their family. 

 

Gombe  

Gombe is an amazing place with its pristine beauty and an amazing history.  Even as the second smallest national park in Tanzania, it housed dedicated research of chimps early in its history with Jane Goodall and continues this research today with its three chimpanzee troupes.  The Kasekela Troupe is the main troupe of Gombe and the most researched troupe in the park.  All of the knowledge found there goes to helping chimp conservation. 

One of the first things researched here was the mother-child relationship.  During our stay here, we took an extensive hike and we were rewarded by two mother chimps grooming each other on the top of a tree.  Underneath them there were their two young chimps playing in the branches below them.  This was a great impression of the life of a chimp, youthful enthusiasm and calm social interaction. 

The young ones were swinging, climbing, jumping, and calling in their play while their mothers watched.  Their calls filled the forest.  While we watched, I am sure each of us was thinking of our mothers and our youth and seeing many similarities between us and them. Seeing the similarities between us help shape the research and ultimately help us conserve them as a species and also their habitat. 

 

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