Hi! Welcome to our site! We decided to call this blog "Yum Chapatis," because we look forward to eating lots of yummy, doughy, chapatis this year :) For now, here's a yummy recipe: click here. Throughout the year we'll try to post photos and updates to yumchapatis.com. Send some love our way!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Consortships and other sexual advances in the forest

March 21, 2010

Today I followed Outamba – an adult female chimpanzee who has five kids (that's a lot for a chimp)! Outamba had a small swelling, and being that she is extremely prolific for a chimp – she must be attractive to the males in the community. Mokoku, an adult male, probably saw this as an opportunity and attempted to sneak her (and her large family) away from the other chimpanzees for a sexual consortship (i.e. an extended period alone where he would have exclusive access to mate with her). I had never seen a male initiate consortship before – so it was pretty cool to see everything play out…and it was especially interesting because Outamba seemed incredibly resistant to the idea of leaving the community – particularly during one of the peak fruiting seasons.
The day started with Mokoku shaking branches at Outamba (yes, male chimpanzees "invite" females by shaking branches at them…sometimes quite aggressively). While Outamba stalled and seemed resistant to Mokoku's invitations, her children were all too eager to hang out with a high ranking male – especially her young son who continually moved with Mokoku and watched his every action. After much branch shaking, Mokoku finally led Outamba and her family away from the central area and towards the periphery of the community home range. Everyone fed on fruits and leaves and the kids played a lot. This lasted for about an hour or two – when suddenly, Outamba was nowhere to be found. I don't know how she did it, but she slipped away and hid somewhere without anyone noticing.
Once the other chimps realized that Outamba was no longer around, things became chaotic. Her son began frantically running (back-tracking) through the forest, and his little sister trailed behind him screaming loudly. Mokoku – followed quickly behind them displaying aggressively by dragging branches, banging on trees, and making loud vocalizations. After running a good distance, Outamba's juvenile son and daughter both climbed a tree and frantically looked around the area while interchanging screams with whimpers. All the while Mokoku waited nearby and occasionally displayed. Finally, he gave up and left, returning to the central area while Outamba's kids remained whimpering in a tree. After nearly ten minutes of this – Outamba appeared from an area of dense vegetation. Her kids quickly climbed down (their cries ceased immediately) and there was a short grooming session before they all traveled together back to the central area.
By mid-day Outamba and her family came to a tree where Mokoku was feeding. After an hour or so of eating fruits, Mokoku violently attacked Outamba – hitting her and eventually pushing her down and stomping on her back. He then briefly groomed her and inspected her genital swelling (an indication of how fertile she is). Then it all started over again. Mokoku shook branches, Outamba stalled and would reluctantly follow, all the while her young son eagerly kept up with Mokoku. For a few hours it went on like this: Mokoku would move ahead of Outamba a few meters and branch shake, Outamba would sloooowly follow – very much taking her time, Mokoku would violently branch shake, Outamba would finally walk over to him, Mokoku would groom Outamba briefly – and then he would move another few meters and start to summon her again.
After a couple hours of slowly moving like this, Mokoku, Outamba, and her children reached a feeding patch (what we call THV or "thick herbaceous vegetation", jargon – I know) where they spent several hours eating. Near the end of the day, several of the other females and their children arrived at the same THV patch. Afterwards, the whole party of adult females, kids, and Mokoku moved in a single-file line down a trail to a nesting site. Mokoku was at the front of the line, and Outamba stalled and joined the line last. While Mokoku and the other moms were walking along the trail – Outamba and her kids slipped away without anyone noticing. They moved quietly and quickly and fed alone in a tree before nesting. Shortly after the Outamba family separated from the rest of the group, we could hear Mokoku displaying from a distance – probably once he realized she had snuck away again.


February 27, 2010

This is a short post, but I thought this was pretty funny. White people here are referred to as muzungus (moo-zoong-goos).  Ugandans use this nickname often and commonly say "hello muzungu!"  "how are you muzungu" – essentially, I am referred to as a muzungu at least 10 times a day. Dean went to town a few weeks ago and asked the grocery store to hold his box of groceries while he ran some errands. When he went back to pick up his groceries – the store assistant had labeled the box "muzungu man."

Akiiki and Amooti

March 5, 2010

Empaakos (or "pet names" as people here call them) are used daily by the Batooro and Banyoro tribes  who live around Kibale Forest. Most people here are given an empaako a few days after they are born by their parents, and Ugandans in this area tend to address each other by their empaakos as opposed to their 'official' names. The amazing thing to me is that there are only twelve different empaakos (Akiiki, Amooti, Adyeri, Atwoki, Ateenyi, Abwoli, Apuuli, Araali, Abbala, and the twelth – the only one not starting with A – is reserved  for the King . This empaako is  Okaali) – so everybody here has one of these twelve names as a pet name.  Dean has been given the empaako Amooti and I am Akiiki.

Another interesting aspect of the naming system in this region of Uganda is that people don't take their mother's or father's last name like we do in the US. Last names (which are actually called First Names here) are different for every member of the family and tend to have some meaning. For example, I have a friend named John Sunday. Sunday is his "first name" and he was given the name because he was born on a Sunday.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Non-Chimpanzee Forest Encounters

February 21, 2010

When I first arrived here at Kibale – I was so focused on learning as much as I could about the chimpanzees that everything else in the forest somehow faded into the background. As I spend more time at Kibale though – I am slowly noticing and recognizing the other amazing aspects of forest life. I have become fascinated with the butterflies, moths, and insects here. I sometimes find myself distracted by their stunning colors and wing designs while I'm trying to watch a chimpanzee. The caterpillars here are also amazing (even if I hate them because they continually find their way into my clothes and give me rashes). The caterpillars tend to be very vibrant with "don't touch me – because I'll make you itch like hell" colors or camouflage incredibly with their surroundings. Thus, here are some photos of my non-chimpanzee forest encounters.

First, some butterflies:

Caterpillars...some of these are surprisingly good at resembling sticks, but pretty much all of them are capable of making my fingers swell up for days if I accidentally touch them. The caterpillar with yellow spikes particularly scares me!:

Frogs! These guys are hard to spot - and even harder to chase around for a good photo...but the end result is worth it:

Spiders. Okay, I only have one spider photo posted - but this one was really cool. You may need to click on the photo and zoom in to see it, but the spider is black with neon yellow markings. The web had two parts - one vertical wall-type part (shown), and then another horizontal floor-type web. Both webs were white with neon yellow strands interwoven through them. I noticed on a later encounter (after accidentally walking through one of these) that the neon yellow strands are shockingly sticky...shockingly:

Moths. Dean and I have fun capturing photos of these guys outside our house at night:

Flowers. I just have one...but it's a beauty:

Miscellaneous Insects: (anybody know what the blue one on the bottom is?)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Murchison Falls National Park

April 26th - 28th, 2010

Sooo, it's been a while since either of us published anything, but now I have some exciting photos to put up!  I went to Murchison Falls National Park at the end of April and it was SPECTACULAR!  I saw giraffes!!!  This may be my favorite large animal.  I think they remind me of the magic in life. Seeing them makes me feel as though life is fantastic without needing special effects in movies.  Surreal!  Speaking of them, here's a couple of photos of these magnificent long-necked beauties:

Unfortunately, this was a trip I took without Julie because she's making up for lost time having been sick for nearly a month.  She's all better now though!  Our safari group was into the giraffes, which made me happy that I wouldn't be the only one obsessing over them.  This place was incredibly beautiful.  It's located in northern Uganda but not so far as to be near Sudan (though it did have Congolese guerrillas living in it in the '90s).  It's between the Victoria and Albert Niles, on Lake Albert.  The southside of the western flowing Victoria Nile is mostly semi-scrub forest, but the north side is primarily savanna ecosystem with lots of Acacia ssp. and palm trees.  Definitely cool!  Here's a picture of me near the delta region of the Victoria Nile flowing into Lake Albert.  The Albert Nile flows north (right in the picture) out of the lake.

I got to see a couple of ungulates that I'd never seen before.  There were lots of Uganda Kob (much like the Impala from Lake Mburo), many Oribi (little ungulates) that I never got a good picture of, and Jackson's Hartebeest, which seemed to be out of a movie (or at least that's what others said).  Here are the Kob and Hartebeest:

Jackson's Hartebeest:
Uganda Kob:

And then, what seemed to get even the driver and ranger excited, lions!  We spotted two females lounging in the shade because two groups of Kob were staring at each other across the open plain.  What were they staring at?  Certainly not each other!  Our guides deduced that lions must be nearby, and viola!

We also saw some savanna monkeys, called Patas Monkeys:

After lunch, we took a boat ride up the Nile to the base of Murchison Falls.  Along the way we saw elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and many many birds.  Here are some pictures from the boat.

Elephants with a Goliath Heron taking off:

Hippos out of water (these guys ran for the water everytime the boat approached):

Now some fun bird pictures.  It was a bit difficult being the birder and photographer, as I wanted to see the bird with my binoculars first, then photograph it.  This is harder than you'd think in a moving boat with live animals.

African Jacana:

Yellow-billed Stork:

Abdim's Stork:

Sacred Ibis:

Rock Pratincole:

My friend and fellow Kasiisi Project volunteer, Chris Mayo-Smith:

And finally, Murchison Falls in the background: