But these “rain dances” are more methodical. While males usually use charging displays as an intimidating greeting when they encounter group mates that they haven’t seen recently, the rain dance seems to occur at any time and in the company of anyone as long as a storm is brewing. Are they, like me, frustrated with the rain itself? What were once valleys are now impassable swamps, unless a fallen tree can act as a balance-beam bridge. This wet period usually ends November 16, plus or minus ten days. write from Ngogo, in the center of Kibale National Park in Uganda, A wrong step and I’ll have mud up to my knees. To learn more, visit. People in the village outside the forest were dreaming of a wet Christmas. As long as I stay in the good graces of the forest spirits, I expect the wet and dry seasons will come in good time each year, especially if Garrison keeps dancing. They often huddle miserably and simply get wet. 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The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. forest daydreams include opening a vegan burrito restaurant in a rural I was holding out hope for a dry Chanukah, keen to toss aside my rubber boots, don hiking shoes, and let my rain jacket lie dormant in my backpack for the next few months. Rain dance But most pertinent to the discovery of the “shrine trees”, we’ve seen evidence of chimps displaying strange ritual-like behaviour in the last few years. Occasionally several males will charge through the rain together, taking turns displaying in an exaggerated fashion. October and November provided considerable food, specifically a favorite fig, Ficus mucuso. I like squirrels. I am a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Or, faced with an awesome display of the power of nature, is it some semblance of spirituality? In my time at Gombe I witnessed an average of two to three waterfall displays and rain dances per year. Rain often subdues them, at least once heavy droplets break though the canopy. They don’t look happy hunched on a branch, arms crossed, their hair drenched, forming spikes as if gelled into a 90s hair-do. The rainy season is draining. But before they seek cover under a tree, while branches sway in the wind and I hop to and fro zipping up my rain pants, male chimpanzees do something unusual: they dance. Ugandan village and making a documentary about an old fig tree. In the Shadow of Man (revised edition). So has the forest. He makes large figure eights around the other chimpanzees and me. Now, I study angst, or at least the I’m sure that at my university campus back home there’s also the smell of wet dog—probably due to all the drenched squirrels. While males usually use charging displays as an intimidating greeting when they encounter group mates that they haven’t seen recently, the rain dance seems to occur at any time and in the company of anyone as long … There’s something comforting—almost nostalgic—about rain; the way it muffles other noises as it taps the street and drums the window. I’m sure that at my university campus back home there’s also the smell of wet dog—probably due to all the drenched squirrels. But the rains continued well into December. 5820 Asher Ave. Suite 400 ~ Little Rock, AR 72204. What do the chimpanzees think of this prolonged wet season? With a display of strength and vigor such as this, primitive man himself might have challenged the elements.”. Geographic Young Explorers grant in 2013 got me through the angst of But there is a large mucuso fig, affectionately known by researchers as Mother Mucuso, that used to be the spiritual center of the village. Sometimes though, chimpanzees perform what researchers call “rain dances”: vigorous yet deliberate physical and auditory displays. © 1996 - 2019 National Geographic Society. The Ugandan chimp trackers report how villagers would go down to the immense fig to make goat sacrifices and give gifts of sorghum beer. But these “rain dances” are more methodical. Sometimes though, chimpanzees perform what researchers call “rain dances”: vigorous yet deliberate physical and auditory displays. Are they in their way praying for the end of the rains? But now, after three months of western Uganda’s rainforest rainy season, I’ve had enough rain. A male leader chimp starts to perform what is referred to as the 'rain dance', presumably in celebration for the end of the dry season. The accompanying odors of sweet grass and decaying leaves plastered to the sidewalk. All rights reserved. Are they taking advantage of the thunder and rain—ominous sounds to embellish their own prowess? Male chimpanzees charge through the forest, rhythmically swaggering, drumming their feet on tree buttresses, slapping the ground, breaking and dragging vegetation, and making loud vocalizations. I Legendary chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall once commented, after observing a 20 minute rain dance by 6 males, “My enthusiasm was not merely scientific as I watched, enthralled…. I... There’s something comforting—almost nostalgic—about rain; the way it muffles other noises as it taps the street and drums the window. They often huddle miserably and simply get wet. What is now Ngogo research camp—my home for the year—was once a small village.