From the Field, Entry 3 – Kara Schroepfer

14-May-12 The Twins’ Day Out

NOTES: Pictures will be coming soon.  Because it is the rainy season I need to bring my rain jacket out with me everyday.  This causes an unintended problem: my camera does not fit in my bag.  The rainy season is now officially over (more on that later) so I’m hoping to remove my rain jacket soon.  Also, you may notice I started with Entry 2.  I actually did post an Entry 1 stating that I am back in Tanzania for six weeks to check up on my adolescent females but wordpress decided it wasn’t worthy of publication and promptly deleted it (Alternatively I may have posted it incorrectly).  On to the twins…

A lot has happened to the twins in the past year.  Both were pregnant for the first time when I arrived last year, with Glitter giving birth at the beginning of July and Golden at the beginning of August.  It looked as if they would follow similar life histories in adulthood after a shared childhood.  But, as is often the case, things don’t always go as planned, especially when your mother is a known baby stealer.  The day Glitter gave birth, her mother, Gremlin, stole the infant to raise as her own.  We don’t why, but she has done this before. Thus, Glitter quickly went back to being a childless adolescent female.  When Golden gave birth only a month later Gremlin’s hands were literally full raising her own 2-year-old and Glitter’s newborn, so she left well enough alone and Golden was able to raise her own baby.  Now, Golden’s baby is a healthy one year old named Glamour that is already showing her independence, climbing up branches and getting into trouble while her mom rests nearby.  Meanwhile Glitter is likely pregnant again.

Yesterday when I saw the twins for the first time in nine months I was happy to see the whole G family together, however, it seemed like the relationship between the twins had changed.  Last year they were somewhat inseparable and would go off together for days at a time without their mom or older sister, Gaia.  Yesterday they hung out with the family but didn’t interact with each other much.  It looked as though the change to motherhood for Golden may have distanced the sisters.  Today was a whole different story.  As it turns out, after I left Golden yesterday, she hooked up with Glitter and joined a group of males for the night.  We found them this morning just down from their nest in the group.  After a breakfast of some msongati the group hightailed it down into Kakombe valley.  After a second breakfast of ngazi the males continued on their way and the twins held back.  Around the same time, Gremlin and Gaia with their numerous offspring came running through the undergrowth and it looked as though the family would spend another day hanging out together.  Golden and Glitter thought differently and didn’t follow Gremlin and Gaia as they went up the valley.  Instead the twins made it one of their many days out.  For about six hours the twins were never more than 15 meters apart and spent over an hour grooming each other just like old times.  Golden still is something of a grooming whore and Glitter still seems happy to oblige, spending far more time grooming Golden than she receives in return.  Though the grooming relationship may not be reciprocal I can only hope Glitter receives something else in return, otherwise she is clearly being used by her twin sister!  Perhaps at the end of my dissertation research I’ll have the answer to that question. Glamour didn’t seem to get in the way at all and Glitter was very tolerant as she climbed all over her during the grooming sessions.  In the end it seems like the introduction of a wee infant into the picture hasn’t much changed the relationship between the twins, they are still the best of friends, or whatever the equivalent may be in chimp world.

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About dukeprimate

About Kara Schroepfer: I’ll be spending the next 2.5 months on the shores of Lake Tanganyika studying the chimpanzees of Gombe. I’ve lived in East Africa before and have studied chimpanzees & bonobos in sanctuaries in Congo and baboons and Red Colobus in the field but never before have I seen or studied wild chimps nor have I been to western Tanzania. While here I will be following adolescent females to learn about female dispersal. Most female chimps leave their natal group when they reach maturity to reproduce in a neighboring group. However, some decide to stay, especially at Gombe. I will be gathering data to answer questions related to the behavioral, physiological and ecological changes that occur during dispersal and/or settlement into their adult communities. In the end, if all goes as planned, this will turn into my doctoral dissertation.
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