What if I told you there were populations of chimpanzees that made spears to hunt, lived in caves, and loved playing in water? These are behaviors usually associated with ancient humans, not chimpanzees. However, recent research has revealed that there are populations of western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) that engage in all of these behaviours, and it is challenging our current understanding of chimpanzee taxonomy.
Butterfly season came suddenly to the Dzanga-Sangha reserve, a dense rainforest in the Central African Republic. Furious storms of butterflies filled the air, and their frail brown forms carpeted the earth. They swarmed over Fiona Rogers and Anup Shah and also seemed to pester the gorilla family that the photographers were following. The harassed apes bashed away at the insects and clamped their mouths shut so none would fly in.
Except, that is, for the family’s dominant female, Malui. She plowed straight through one drove of butterflies resting in the bais, as the swampy meadows in the forest are known. Seeming to relish the rush of wings, she paused to let the butterflies envelop her. Then she did it again. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo by Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers
Ed note: Click through for many more incredible photographs of the gorilla family.
Virunga National Park, Africa by Michael “Nick” Nichols.
The park, now a World Heritage Site, lies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and borders on Rwanda and Uganda. Besides volcanoes and lava plains, the area is rich in lowland forests and swamps, savannah and snow-capped mountains. Dian Fossey studied the mountain gorillas here. Hippopotamuses, elephants, and any number of endemic species live here.
But the park has been affected by politics as well, and the results of war and strife often seep deep into the forest. During the civil war in the Congo and the 1994 Rwandan genocide, refugees sought food and shelter in the jungle, cutting down trees to build shelter and killing endangered species for food. Others chopped down trees to sell the wood and create pastures for cattle. In 2007, unknown assailants shot several of the rare mountain gorillas, unprotected creatures that draw tourism dollars to the region.
The state of great ape habitats in the 21st century.