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Gumboot Memoirs

Gumboot Memoirs: Our Experiences Studying the Imperiled Chimpazees of Western Uganda

Gumboot Logo PicRead of the experiences of field researchers Jack Lester and Maureen McCarthy who spent 1-1/2 years studying chimpanzees in western Uganda.  The authors are currently at the Max Planck Institute, analyzing specimens and data collected that will shed further light on how chimpanzees like the Bulindi chimps are adjusting to the loss of local forests.

 

Return of Odd-Looking Apes

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on Return of Odd-Looking Apes

Return of Odd-Looking Apes

  By Jack Lester I was preoccupied with thoughts about the day ahead as we drove briskly along the smooth dirt road toward an old haunt of ours. It had been nearly six years since I had seen our dear old friends in the Kasokwa Forest. Actually, they would not claim us as friends. At best, they likely viewed us with mild curiosity as odd-looking apes who tagged along quietly with them for some strange reason. Regardless of their point of view on the matter, I thought of them often and was very much looking forward to catching up as soon as...

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What Can We Do To Save The Bulindi Chimps

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on What Can We Do To Save The Bulindi Chimps

What Can We Do To Save The Bulindi Chimps

ChimpSaver.org posed questions to field researcher Jack Lester, wanting to know what can be done to protect the chimpanzees of the Budongo-Bugoma corridor in western Uganda (including the Bulindi Survivor chimps). Here are his thoughts:   QUESTION: You make a case for not losing hope. What can be done at this point to help ensure the chimps survive? Jack Lester:  There are several potential options: 1.  The first option, and what I believe to be the most preferred, involves the restoration of the riverine forests to their natural state,...

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The Landmine Snare

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on The Landmine Snare

The Landmine Snare

By Maureen McCarthy Author’s note: This post was originally published at Scientific American in September 2013. Though the incident I describe here occurred some months ago, it remains fresh in my mind and I think about it frequently. I can only hope that in reading this you, like me, will feel inspired to do something positive for the many chimpanzees enduring such hardships on a daily basis. This is our last week of data collection. It was supposed to be a laid-back week to collect a few more samples and enjoy a few final days tracking...

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DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN; Part 3

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN; Part 3

DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN; Part 3

By Jack Lester This is the third and final part of a series of posts about a place we call Chimp Mountain.  Click on the link to read Part 1 and Part 2.   A couple of weeks after Moses told us of his abduction, he paid us another visit. We had been in frequent contact with him, so we were surprised to hear he had experienced another attempt to intimidate him into abandoning his conservation efforts. The loggers, unfortunately, followed through with their previous threats and had the police arrest him under false pretenses. After three...

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Descending Chimp Mountain – Part Two

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on Descending Chimp Mountain – Part Two

Descending Chimp Mountain – Part Two

By Jack Lester See last week’s post  for Part 1 of this story. Several months had passed since our last visit to Chimp Mountain, a vital component in the Bugoma-Budongo corridor area, and since Moses first became aware of the dire situation there.  We rumbled our way up to the top of the mountain in Lucy, our trusty Land Cruiser, where we discovered the road we normally used to access the main forest was muddied and impassable.  Although the rainy season was underway, we had passed this way many times before in far worse weather conditions. ...

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DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN

DESCENDING CHIMP MOUNTAIN

By Jack Lester Chimp Mountain.  The name inspires images of a dramatic landscape where wild chimpanzees range freely in a pristine forest, safely isolated from human disturbance.  During the planning stages of her study, Maureen saw the forest to be intimidatingly expansive and was uncertain about the feasibility of working in such a large area, especially considering the scope of the rest of the project.  The satellite imagery she carefully studied revealed the forest of Chimp Mountain to be one of the largest natural forests in the Bunyoro...

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RISING CONFLICT

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on RISING CONFLICT

RISING CONFLICT

By Maureen McCarthy    (Author’s Note: This blog post was originally published at Scientific American in January 2013.)   It was a day off from the field, an opportunity for a bit of mental respite and physical relaxation. The quiet peace of the day was halted, however, when I received an alarming text message from my field assistant, Nick. In it, he relayed the news he’d just heard on the local radio station: a chimpanzee attacked a six-month old infant in a nearby village. The infant had been taken for medical care in town. The...

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Shared Interests

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on Shared Interests

Shared Interests

By Jack Lester   Sometimes landowners make decisions that have negative impacts on people and wildlife. We see it when developers build in known wetlands and flood plains or violate protections. Similar decisions are threatening the lives of people and chimpanzees in Uganda, as documented by field researcher Jack Lester. We had recently returned to Uganda from a nine-month stay in the U.S. During our time away, Maureen’s previous field assistant, Henry, received an offer from the Uganda National Forestry Authority he couldn’t refuse. She...

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Hunting for Answers

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on Hunting for Answers

Hunting for Answers

By Maureen McCarthy The next in a series of blog postings from field researcher Maureen McCarthy on chimpanzees surviving in an area of near complete deforestation in western Uganda.   We recently embarked on data collection in a new community of chimpanzees. They were new to us, that is, though we had heard a great deal about them. We heard from local friends that this is a large community, consisting of more chimpanzees than other communities nearby. We heard that they come into conflict with embittered human neighbors more often than...

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A Tale of Two Tourists

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Gumboot Memoirs | Comments Off on A Tale of Two Tourists

A Tale of Two Tourists

           Field researcher Jack Lester describes the life of chimpanzees in a Ugandan forest nearly entirely replaced by tobacco and other cash crops. Solutions needed.             The chimpanzees we study live in what is known as the Bunyoro region of Uganda.  Apart from a few protected forests, they live in a constantly changing habitat dominated by humans, and must have a high level of behavioral flexibility to survive. This means that those who wish to study them must have high levels of flexibility as well.  It also helps to be lucky...

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