Michio plays with his reflection in the river

12 October 2010

By Sulemani Juma-Tracker, Greystoke Mahale.

Quite recently while trekking chimpanzees, I followed them heading from north toward the southern border of M-Community, the habituated chimpanzees’ community in the Mahale Mountains National Park. I saw Michio, a 13 year old male chimpanzee in accompany with others. He came to drink from the river using his hand. It is known to many people that chimpanzees avoid getting wet, and when approaching water bodies they will cross in sites where it is possible for them to cross by jumping and staying dry. Even when drinking from rivers they will occasionally step and hold on to a dry rock, bend the neck, and drink using their mouth.

But on this day I saw Michio drinking with his hand, and later—seeing his own image reflected from the water, he started playing with it. Of course he got his whole body wet. At the time he was drinking, and later playing with the water; other chimpanzees were beside him watching, but no one joined his play. Other chimpanzees moved away, and Michio with his whole body wet; followed the rest of the group across the river. After talking over this story with other people who were in the forest that date, we all found it exciting, and each one asserted they had never before seen that sort of behaviour performed by chimpanzees.

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