CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: The chimpanzees’ mating ritual is enough to make you blush.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: The chimpanzees’ mating ritual is enough to make you blush.

Plenty to learn from chimps in the Kibale forest

WITH a television in front of him and a beer in hand, Mister Black could have been mistaken for an Aussie bloke watching sport on a couch.

Lying back, head resting on hand, Mister Black was not shy about scratching his armpits or his - erm - nether regions in front of us.

And just like an Aussie who has sunk a few beers, he would occasionally stand up and strike a pose for his admirers - turning so everyone got an eyeful.

Considering some scientists suggest chimpanzees share more than 98% DNA with humans, I suppose it's not surprising there are many similarities in the way they behave.

When looking into the eyes of the older chimps, it's like looking into their souls.

But we chicks could probably learn a thing or two from their mating rituals.

The guides taking groups trekking through the Kibale forest in Uganda tell us the men have to bring the females food if they want a bit of loving.

It's usually berries or other fruit from the trees you see them effortlessly swinging between, and shaking to release said treats.

But, unlike many other primates, chimpanzees will also eat little snakes or piglets and other meat if it's on offer.

If the female chimpanzees don't like the look of the male, they shun him.

If he doesn't bring enough food, same deal.

Apparently he has to peel off the leaves or prepare the meal for her and must whisper sweet nothings in her ear.

Then he pees on it, she eats it and he gets some "jiggy jiggy".

I think we can safely leave the urination part of the ritual in the forest.

But the guides tell us the woman is in complete control of the situation in the bedroom department.

They say she can have sex more than 50 times a day, sometimes with males lining up, while the boys average seven times daily.

But this promiscuity in chimpanzee-land might be easily explained - with the guides evoking much laughter as they say the men last just five to seven seconds.

There were 120 chimps in the family we trekked to find in Uganda.

They are a little elusive so our guides had to look for droppings and keep a keen ear for their calls.

They do regularly call out to each other because they think the food source is better if they split up.

Once you finally track down our mesmerising relatives - you'll see them swing easily from branch to branch high above.

But many have been habituated so they're not shy and happy to come down and entertain the crowds too.

The writer travelled to Uganda with Intrepid as part of an East Africa overland tour.

The tour stayed at one of numerous camping grounds near the Kibale Forest.


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