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Latest News Article
Author: Asilia Africa
Date: 08 Dec 2014
Migration Monday Update - 08 December 2014 Migration Monday update: The Serengeti herds are almost at Lake Ndutu on the Serengeti border and they are a month early this year! There are also some herds that have lingered around the Mara conservancies and some left in Olare Motorogi, Mara North and Naboisho conservancies - so unusual but great for guests wanting to come and see the migration in this area.
Namiri Plains guide Epimark Mwakalinga has let us know that last week they had lots of rain for a full 5 days which has brought some of the migration back to the plains, There are lots of zebra and wildebeest all the way to Barafu Kopjes close to the border between the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. On the way to Gol Kopjes there are also lots of herds! We also have lion, cheetah and leopard lurking around the camp too. Stay tuned for next week’s migration update.
Author: Ryan Green, Travel Writer
Date: 28 Nov 2014
Rubondo blog: Dr. Paco Bertolani – Seeking the soul of the ape. The population of chimpanzees on Rubondo Island has been mentioned in previous articles: how they came to be there by the efforts of the great conservationist Professor Bernard Grzimek. From a core group of 16 released back into the wild over several years in the 1960s, this community now numbers around 40 individuals, and they are all wild-born. Dr. Bertolani will now be at the forefront of a project to habituate these wild chimps on Rubondo Island National Park.

This presents a unique opportunity for studying their behaviour, population dynamics and even genetic diversity, but in order to do that, these wild chimps must first be habituated to a human presence. In a completely natural state, chimpanzees have an innate fear of humans, and will flee at the first sight of people, as Dr. Jane Goodall famously noted in recording her attempts at habituating the chimps at Gombe Stream, which was the first time this had been done.

The first thing you notice about him is the tattoo on his brow that makes him look remarkably like a chimpanzee. In fact, he was given this tattoo by a tribe of Mentawai hunters in Sumatra, Indonesia while he lived among them in 1990. The next thing you notice is the intensity of his gaze, both inquisitive and penetrating at the same time, able to notice and interpret the subtlest nuances of body language, facial expressions and non-verbal communication clues from his subjects. Both of these must be of huge benefit to someone studying anthropoid apes, and judging by his success, they must be.

He has a great depth of experience in his field, having been involved in chimp studies in several research projects across Africa, and in two cases he was directly involved in habituating the animals to human presence before they could be studied further by direct observation.

In his first study, he went to Taï National Park in Cote d’Ivoire, where the chimps had been part of a habituation project for four years, and at that time, one female, Zora, was tolerating a human presence. After a year, he had successfully habituated several more individuals, mostly males, which then led to the rest of the study community becoming accustomed to human observers. This led to the direct observation of their behaviour of nut-cracking, using a rock and a stone anvil. This might not sound like an earth-shattering behavioural trait, but it has huge implications in the fields of biological anthropology and psychology. This behaviour was deemed to be cultural: studies since the 1980s have shown it only occurs among specific groups of chimpanzees in West Africa, and isn’t found elsewhere. This is especially obvious where populations are separated by rivers, where on one side they have the “knowledge” of nut-cracking, on the other they don’t.

He wrote his dissertation for the University of Rome on the habituation process and behaviour of a female that reared an adopted infant in addition to her own baby, which was unusually altruistic behaviour not commonly encountered in the wild.

Then, during a sojourn of several years, he studied turtles in South America and worked for an institute of statistics in his hometown, Rome.

Eventually, Africa and chimpanzees called him back, and in 2004 he found himself in Senegal, once again working on habituating a community that lived in the arid, mosaic-savannah habitat of Fongoli. This site had particular interest to researchers as it was very similar to the environment that created early man, and the behaviour of chimps there might lead to vital clues to our understanding of our own early development.

Dr. Bertolani also worked on the habituation of the chimps, a process that had started several years before his arrival. After many months of sometimes very frustrating work, he says, he managed to win over the acceptance of the group, until he was able to follow them and observe their behaviour. It was at this point that he made an astounding discovery. Several of the chimps, mostly females and adolescents, were making spears by selecting a branch, stripping off the leaves and sharpening the point with their teeth. They then used these spears to hunt bushbabies, small nocturnal primates that hide in tree crevices during the day. This was the first recorded instance of a non-human primate regularly using tools to actively hunt vertebrates. The discovery caused a sensation around the world, and this behaviour has now been observed many times and been the subject of a National Geographic documentary. Another observation he made was of the chimps here bathing in pools of water to escape the terrific summertime heat, which was extraordinary in itself, as chimps are notoriously afraid of water.

For his next project, Dr. Bertolani found himself in Kibale National Park, Uganda, where a group of chimpanzees where being studied by Professor Richard Wrangham. This group had taken ten years to habituate, and Dr. Bertolani suspects this was due to the fact that groups of people used to venture into the forest where the chimps were, as opposed to a single person, which is the method he prefers. It was here that he worked on his PhD. study for the University of Cambridge, which was on the home-range use and spatial orientation of the chimps in the forest, i.e. how they must have made a mental map of their environment in order to navigate their territory in search of food and water.

His habituation project on Rubondo Island National Park is set to become the subject of a new National Geographic documentary – in the next blog post Dr. Bertolani’s will discuss his plans for the chimpanzees, and how he will go about the enormous task that awaits him.

To read more about Rubondo on our blog please click here. 
Author: Asilia Africa
Date: 19 Nov 2014
Migration Monday Update - 17 November 2014 Migration Monday update: Right now the wildebeest have all left to the South of the Serengeti with only some zebra being left behind. The big head of the Migration is now approximately between the central Seronera and Moru area. Dunia Camp's manager, Angel, said it has now been about two weeks since the wildebeest moved to the south east of the central Serengeti, the area also known as Moru 2. The camp smells fresh after having 2 hours of heavy rain which washed away the dust after all gnus left. Many herds are now heading towards the central Serengeti and probably will be heading south if it will rain. Namiri Plains guide Blessed, has said the migration is very close to camp this week!
Photo credit: Dunia Camp manager, Angel
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Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
An exclusive camp nestled on an uninhabited island, home to chimpanzees, elephants and the elusive sitatunga.
Kimondo Camp (South)
Kimondo Camp (South)
Kimondo is a migration camp, following the herds as they migrate across the plains of the Serengeti, ensuring that guests are always within striking distance of this age-old natural wonder.
Ubuntu Camp (West), Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp (West), Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Rekero Camp, Kenya
Rekero Camp, Kenya
Rekero Camp has a long and proud history in the Mara that lends to it a depth of character and low-key authenticity that is the hallmark of this luxury tented camp.
Ubuntu Camp (North), Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp (North), Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Naboisho Camp, Kenya
Naboisho Camp, Kenya
On a private conservancy, that is an example of conservation and communities working together, Naboisho offers an opportunity to gain an understanding of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem.
Acacia House, Maasai Mara
Acacia House, Maasai Mara
Imagine your own house in the bush, right in the heart of the Maasai Mara. Acacia House, Mara House and Topi House are ideal for a couple, family or group on safari.
Namiri Plains, Tanzania
Namiri Plains, Tanzania
Namiri Plains is for the serious big cat and carnivore enthusiast wanting a high degree of comfort combined with an exclusive and authentic safari experience.
Olakira Camp (South), Tanzania
Olakira Camp (South), Tanzania
Olakira is a luxurious under-canvas camp that moves with the seasons, following the wildebeest herds through the Serengeti to ensure a front-row seat at the greatest show on earth.
Ubuntu Camp (South), Tanzania
Ubuntu Camp (South), Tanzania
Following in the footsteps of the Great Wildebeest Migration, this traditional safari camp receives incredible praise from guests for its authenticity and warm hospitality.
Little Oliver's, Tarangire
Little Oliver's, Tarangire
Little Oliver’s is built in complete harmony with the surrounding environment and guest accommodation consists of 5 expansive tents each with en-suite facilities, indoor and outdoor bucket showers and decks.
Dunia Camp, Tanzania
Dunia Camp, Tanzania
Combining pristine wilderness with the intimacy of a timeless tented camp, Dunia Camp offers superb game viewing all year round from its secluded location in the heart of the Serengeti.
Topi House, Maasai Mara
Topi House, Maasai Mara
Imagine your own house in the bush, right in the heart of the Maasai Mara. Acacia House, Mara House and Topi House are ideal for a couple, family or group on safari.
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
This upmarket camp is one of the finest in Africa, offering luxurious lodgings in some of the best Big Five country on the continent.
Olakira Camp (North), Tanzania
Olakira Camp (North), Tanzania
Olakira is a luxurious under-canvas camp that moves with the seasons, following the wildebeest herds through the Serengeti to ensure a front-row seat at the greatest show on earth.
Oliver’s Camp, Tanzania
Oliver’s Camp, Tanzania
Walking safaris are the specialty of the camp, and the depth of knowledge and experience of the camp naturalist guides makes Oliver’s Camp a firm favourite amongst safari enthusiasts.
Kimondo Camp (North), Kenya
Kimondo Camp (North), Kenya
Kimondo is a migration camp, following the herds as they migrate across the plains of the Serengeti, ensuring that guests are always within striking distance of this age-old natural wonder.
Mara House, Maasai Mara
Mara House, Maasai Mara
Imagine your own house in the bush, right in the heart of the Maasai Mara. Acacia House, Mara House and Topi House are ideal for a couple, family or group on safari.
Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar
Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar
Combining the spirit of Zanzibar with the highest standards of luxury, Matemwe Retreat’s secluded villas are considered the most exclusive choice on this exotic island.
Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar
Matemwe Lodge, Zanzibar
Overlooking a shallow coral fringed lagoon on the quieter northeast coast of Zanzibar, Matemwe’s peaceful location and relaxed atmosphere, makes it the ideal place to unwind.
Matemwe Beach House, Zanzibar
Matemwe Beach House, Zanzibar
On the chalk white Matemwe beach lies Matemwe Beach House; the perfect holiday home for a family or small group wanting a private slice of this beautiful coast line
Kwihala Camp, Tanzania
Kwihala Camp, Tanzania
This small, exclusive camp combines raw beauty with simple excellence. Kwihala is renowned among safari enthusiasts for its excellent standard of guiding and intimate knowledge of Ruaha National Park.
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