Kimberly Patterson

During CAC Tanzania, we were up close with chimpanzees in their environment and I felt a strong connection with them.  They, as our closest relatives, are so similar to us.  The wonder of Mahale became clear to me when we followed the chimpanzees during a rain storm, watching them first sit huddled to stay dry and then later perform an exuberant rain dance.  In Gombe, I was struck by the beauty of the old growth forest and complexity of life that calls it home.  From Janeís Peak, we sat in silence listening to and looking at the whole forest, surrounded by the chimps, the baboons, and so many other animals.  From this point I felt like a part of the forest ecosystem, while also recognizing the fragility of the fragmented habitat.  It is important for everyone to work towards conserving this wonderful place and the amazing animals that live there. 



Mahale is an amazing beautiful place.  Sitting on the beach, looking out over Lake Tanganyika with the birds, baboons, and dragon flies and really makes me feel connected to the diversity of wildlife here. 

This feeling goes another step further when bush whacking in the rain forest in pursuit of chimpanzees.  Sitting out in the rain in the middle of the forest, so close to a group of big male chimpanzees, I felt so close to them, like we were all part of the same group.  We each huddled up, squatting in the forest, to keep as dry as possible.  The chimpanzees, doing the same thing, looked at us and we looked at them and I felt a deep connectedness with them.  They are our closest cousins and are so similar to us in so many ways. 

Being off the path in a wild place with some of the most amazing animals on earth, chimpanzees, is an experience that reminds me how interconnected this world is and how closely related to these animals we are.  We must protect them and work to ensure that they have the opporuntinty to live their lives in the wild. 



Gombe is a place with so much important history and so much room for many discoveries to be made in the future.  When Jane Goodall first came to Gombe in 19600, it was a remote jungle mixed with small villages.  Gombe is home to the humanís closest relative, to the chimpanzee, and in 1960, almost nothing was known about these amazing animals.  Thanks to Jane Goodall and the many researcher that have come after her, we now know a lot about chimpanzees, the forest of Gombe, and all the other creatures that live in this forest.  However, there is still room for so many more discoveries here. 

Gombe can be summed up with the view from Janeís Peak.  The dense forest extends from peaks to valley and mixes with clouds at the top of the mountains.  The clear blue waters of Lake Tanganyika are visible to the right.  When one listens, they can hear the stream, the birds, the insects, the chimps, the baboons, and sometimes even the distant thunder rolling over the lake.  From this point one often has the opportunity to see the chimps, baboons, and monkeys moving about in the forest.  Gombe is an amazing place full of wonder.  It is a national park and therefore, is protected, but it is still a fragile habitat.  This rest is isolated from other forests by small villages and from land.  There is now a campaign to let corridors connect the forests and doing this would promote habitat and species conservation.  We must support efforts such as this one in order to ensure the survival of this amazing place and of these awesome animals. 


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