Life long learning & growth

Experience born and bred in Mahale

20 January 2023

As a 16 year old Mwiga was inspired by Jane Goodall – today, he’s one of Africa’s leading primatology guides

Mwiga has twenty years experience of Nomad, all at Greystoke Mahale. His family was local royalty – his maternal grandfather was a well-respected Tongwe chief and his grandmother was born in a village not far from where Greystoke now sits. Mwiga was brought up with stories of the chimpanzees. His mother spoke of them often and both his uncle and father worked with the primatologists from Kyoto University. In fact, his father introduced Professor John Ichiro Itan to the Mahale population of chimps and his uncle was one of the trackers who helped to habituate the M-Group.

At 16 years of age he met Jane Goodall who came to give a talk at his school, and received a prize from her for his exceptional knowledge of, and picture of a chimp. With such pedigree, and his insatiable curiosity, Mwiga was always going to become one of Mahale’s top guides. He had to start from the bottom though, and originally joined Roland and Zoe Purcell as a waiter and housekeeper at Greystoke, still tents on a remote beach. Eventually he managed to get out into the forest as a tracker where he spent blissful days following one group after the other as they traversed the forest, observing unique behaviour and learning the individual characteristics. He still finds that each day with the chimps brings new discoveries and, as he says, he is a full-time student at the best primate university in the world.

Over the last few years Mwiga has been a wonderful ambassador for Nomad, and the chimps of Mahale, travelling to Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila in 2016, and to the USA in 2017 giving presentations to clients about life in Mahale. Having never left Tanzania beforehand, he has even recently returned from a trip to Virunga National Park in the Congo to meet the gorilla's.

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