Not only do they fish for termites and other insects with sticks modified for that very purpose through chewing but they can also use the same chewed sticks to access more water or other fluids by dipping them. And you thought that it was only people who are crazy about “dips’! Well you have another think coming.
Because their thumb is in the opposite direction from the rest of the fingers – just like in humans - chimpanzees are also quite amazingly handy with a variety of other natural objects that they turn into useful tools. These objects can be stones, sticks or leaves. A big stick can be fashioned as a club to be mightily thrown( chimpanzees are five times stronger that humans) as a weapon to an unwelcome leopard or nosey human being. If a chimpanzee feels like having a nutty breakfast, it will not let the hard shell stop it! Instead, it will search for a stone with the right shape and crack it open so as to get to the inner delicacy. And for a nice suck of water, chimpanzees will soak some leaves in water so that they can then absorb the water. After wards, it sucks these leaves for the moisture in them. How clever is that?
Chimps can also make ‘combs’ to groom each other and to calm each other down if one is excited. Friends and families can use these combs to cement the bonds between them. They also hug, touch and kiss to display strong affection towards their boyfriends, girlfriends or any of their loved ones. If you visit their home, you might see some holding hands too!
When unwell, a chimpanzee will deliberately eat medicinal plants and herbs that will help make it well! And since they can suffer from the similar diseases that affect humans such as hepatitis B, influenza nad measles, humans could do well to explore how the chimps treat themselves and borrow leaves – so to speak. Otherwise when in perfect health it will dine on a balanced diet of over eighty different fruits, nuts and meat.
These very clever relatives of humans are waiting for you to visit them in different special places such Kibale Forest National park in Uganda and Cyamudongo in Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda. Perhaps you will have the privilege of sharing the above unique experiences first hand.
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor