Robondo

Name ID 1396

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Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19c
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul

Chimpanzees

I ask Hugo what he has learned out here. He tells me that he is calmer and more self-assured now, but this is probably due to age. 'You are alive thanks to luck in many ways,' he tells me. 'How fragile life is.' He explains to me that if you are out here full time, it is not good. 'You get tunnel vision and you lose your perspective.' Hugo has seen a lot of scientists and researchers pass through here. When they arrive they have a lot of fear of Africa for about six months, then they go completely the other way and become fearless. It is the same with pilots, he says, and that is the most dangerous time - when they become fearless. Hugo spent many years observing Chimpanzees when he was with his former wife Jane Goodall. He tells me the good Chimp mothers would discipline their young with a hit or a bite on the hand, followed by a hug afterwards. This is how you should treat human children, he explains. Hugo and Jane have a son named Grob, and he tells me that they never ignored his crying. If you ignore their crying, they will become insecure. I am always interested when anyone has advice on how to be a good parent. Silently, perhaps, I must be longing for this.

Chimps, to Hugo, aren't animals; they are so close to humans. He tells me about the tame Chimpanzee named Washoe in USA. It was asked to sort different photographs into humans and animals. He put the photos of himself with the humans, and he put the photo of his mother, who he didn't know, with the animals. Hugo asks me, 'If Neanderthal man were alive today, would we call him human?' In captivity, Chimps that haven't been brought up in a group don't know how to mate. Robondo is an island in Lake Victoria west of here. It is the only successful complete rehabilitation in the world of domestic Chimpanzees back into nature. Domestic Chimps know your strength; they will attack you. Wild Chimps think you are stronger, so they will run. Robondo was set up as a refuge for certain endangered species by Bernard Grzimek in the 60's. The Chimps were just dumped there. All the original adults are now gone, but when Markus Borner went there and pointed a camera lens at a female with a baby, she attacked and injured him, so perhaps they haven't forgotten everything.

Extract ID: 3658

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See also

Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19d
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul

Tim Ward

The mention of Robondo reminds me of a pilot friend that I had met in the Serengeti. Tim Ward was one of those friendly people who would take the time to help you. I only knew him briefly, but he helped me find my way around the Serengeti during the film. I was shocked when I later learned that he had crashed taking off from the 900 meter airstrip on Robondo. Everyone one board was killed. I had filed this somewhere in the back of my head and was very surprised to meet his widow some years later in South Africa. I got to know him better by listening to her, and she said to me, 'God takes young, those he loves the most.'

Extract ID: 3659
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