Wamba Diary #11
Last week, the bonobos were sick. Most of the group was sneezing, some even coughing. This pandemic which lasted for a few days followed repetitive rains. During that time, the group ranged less far than usual and was mainly resting. So, for the first time, I was witnessing signs of sickness at the scale of a group. Days were then a bit less exhausting but not less interesting. Most of them had a runny nose (-we wore masks and kept our distance as much as possible), some would wipe it occasionally on tree vines, while others (most) preferred to pick it and lick their fingers. I named this behavior “pick-lick” (-looks like “picnic” but of another kind). While in humans, pick-lick may disappear (for most) by the end of primary school mainly due to social disgust pressure, in bonobos, age doesn’t matter –infants and adults alike seem to enjoy it. That said they contented themselves with their own snorts and not the ones of others, even between mothers and infants. Yoda, a male infant, broke all records: 54 pick-licks within 5 minutes! What a greater way to build your immune system?! A few days later, it was our turn to get similar symptoms (but not similar response behaviors, he!). Let’s hope it was the change of weather…
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