Wamba Diary #10
6:22 am. Trying to catch up with the bonobos when we hear them screaming from a distance. Bambambe says: “Stay here. I think they’ve found an animal”. So, I wait a bit while the bonobos keep vocalizing. After making sure the situation is secured (sort of), he tells me I can approach. A Bay duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis) is caught in a traditional trap. The bonobos (almost all individuals of Kamekake) are surrounding the scene. The duiker is still alive and the bonobos seem very agitated and intrigued. Bambambe says: “We are here for the day. When in 2012, PE group found an antelope; they stayed around for one week as the hunters were on a trip.” A few individuals start displaying at the trapped animal, shaking branches, jumping around, and checking its reaction. Worried about their investigative behavior, Lokemba (another tracker of E1 group) add: “We have better to kill it, otherwise the bonobos may free it [as it happened in the past] and we will get in trouble with the hunters.” Traditional traps are allowed in the reserve (not wire-ones) and a duiker like this, caught once every few months, is worth 50,000 CF = 30 USD. The animal is already wounded and seems very weak. We know it is going to die anyway so, better to make it quick. Bambambe helps but bonobos stick around. Adolescents and juveniles seem the most investigative; they repetitively touch the dead animal and subsequently smell their fingers. Some even go until mouthing it (-yes, Wamba is a great place for epidemiologists). Some others, on the contrary (mainly adult males), seem much more cautious and keep a certain distance. The primary investigation lasts until hunger is calling, i.e. about six hours later. They did not have proper breakfast yet. So, Yuki (an adult female) with Yoda (her son) on her back, followed by Otomi and Fuku (two other adult females) and their infants, start leading the way to a Boleka tree. They feast and then the group comes back. But the duiker has disappeared; the morning team brought it back to the village. The same individuals keep screening the place. One adolescent female, Debby, is now playing with the rope that was tight around the duiker leg. She keeps it in the mouth while the group starts moving to its next foraging location, and the rest of the day goes on. Before nesting, they stop by the same spot (and will do so up to five days later!). On the way back from the forest, kids without teeth and underwear run outside their houses to wave at me and shake hands (I feel very privileged! Some still call me Toda –not sure if it is the short hair, the white skin or both). And another day goes by in Wamba forest…
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