all shot on B/W films, Mahale nat’l Park, western Tanzania. The only decent place to see them. Repeat after me. And I’m not on anybody’s payroll. Quite a few cliens had visited the other chimp’s sites and all agree that Mahale was the best location.
nothing sexual here, just plain grooming, an important social interaction.
Mahale NP, western Tanzania. Grooming is a national pastime for chimpanzees. It creates bonds between individuals, and enforces hierarchy.
Poorly healed broken phalange.
This park, Mahale, is a mountain on the shore of lake Tanganyika. The forest is everywhere and of the tropical type. The chimpanzees might be very close to the visitors but not always in plain sight.
Typical piggy-back ride.
On the rocky river banks.
My cameras by then 10 years ago (though I still have and use them regularly) were Nikons FM2 and F3. And a Leica M6 which was my favorite one in the very dark forest since it can be used hand held at really low shutter speeds, like 1/2 sec for me or even 1 sec claim some photographers!
Chimpanzees are fascinating animals, so close to us, socially and physically (98% common DNA after all) no matter what bible extremists might say about evolution. But to get to see such a beautiful specimen…
one might have to walk for hours in a tropical forest. Machete is a common helper for the guide.
But sometimes it takes 10 min on a trail like this to spot them. There even have been cases of chimps coming to camps…
These chimpanzees in Mahale have been habituated by decades of researchers studying them so they don’t run away. As opposed to Jane Goodall’s approach, these Japanese scientists didn’t interfere, they just watched. In turn visitors can approach safely with risking their life.
A rare spot where sun goes through the thick canopy. For once I could use comfortably a 100 asa slide film.
Even when the light looks fine, it is usually not. Look at the long rain drops showing a typical slow shutter speed.
We were here waiting for the little stars to come down the branches and drink in the river.
I’ve said it before but Mahale on lake Tanganyika, western Tanzanian, is the best park to view the chimpanzees in the wild but in excellent conditions. Nomad Safari is the best company for lodging in the park (and I'm not on their payroll anymore). The pictures below were shot with a 135mm lens max. On slide film, the hard way as opposed to digital.
Having a rest…
and sneezing! Flu is a killer within great apes by the way. You’re asked to decline the visit if you’re sick.
Nearby the researchers’ camp…
this container is quite often (enough to force the guys to abandon it)hammered by a male chimp to assert his message. The power in those limbs is enough to damage the metal wall.
Apparently the best place to spot chimpanzees in good conditions is in Mahale NP, western Tanzania. Other countries will pretend the opposite but what I heard from clients was the difficult transport means, poor accomodations and mostly chimps staying high up in trees.
A beautiful tropical forest and easy-going chimps will come a few meters away from the few visitors.
Some of the males look like mini Schwarzeneggers…
Flea removal or grooming is a national pastime, and their sense of privacy is not quite the same as ours…
I flew about 2 years for a company who ran lodges, camps and aircraft, so I got to spend weeks in a row (up to 6 once, so cool) in the bush, flying clients between camps.
Mahale Nat’l Park, western Tanzania, probably the best place in the world to view the chimpanzees. It’s not only the quality of the sighting but the surroundings, that is mountains, lake and various activities.
So here are some old pictures shot over the many weeks I had spent over there, all on good old B/W films, even some Kodak Tmax 3200 like this one. For the youngsters, they can’t understand that prehistoric way to do pictures.
We were supposed to keep a minimum distance but the chimps didn’t know that so we got to be really close, where a 50 or 105 mm lens would be enough.
Mahale is a tropical forest, so once in a while the stars would stay in thick foliage but that shouldn’t deter anyone to keep on shooting.
Not having oral pleasure but tick removal session. Well I think…
These guys are artists at staying at ease on thin ropes.