|In appearance, behaviour and biological make-up, chimps groom, carry their little ones and Pocko shows how he walks on his feet. [Photo: George Mulala/ Standard]|
By Marion Ndung’u
When it is feeding time at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the chimpanzees form an organised queue. They pick some fruits and tea and move on to sit at an open area before they start to enjoy their meal.
Watching them, one cannot miss the similarity between these animals and human beings.
At the centre — one of the seven in the world that takes care of orphaned chimps — there are 42 chimpanzees most having been rescued from central Africa regions where they were enslaved or ensnared by poachers. Chimps are highly endangered.
John Kiama, a caretaker at the centre, says five chimps have been born to the centre since it started rescuing the apes. But the initial plan was not for them to breed as Nanyuki is not a natural habitat for them.
Explains Kiama, “The babies were born due to the failure of the Norplant chip planted under the skin to prevent conception.”
Like human beings, chimpanzees can be administered with family planning methods to prevent the growth of population.
The sanctuary has two groups of chimpanzees separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. The two cannot mix simply because chimps can’t swim.
They sleep in stone houses to prevent them from suffering from diseases caused by cold temperatures.
The animals are fed three times a day on carrots, cabbages, spinach, peanuts, fruits as well as other foods eaten by man as the environment does not allow them to be fully dependent on the wild for food.
“For the evening meal, they usually have ugali mixed with eggs to keep them warm and strong,” says Kiama.