Back in the day, Frodo was something else (or so I’ve been told). With his large build, self-assuredness and eye for drama, chimps and humans alike would leap into bushes when they saw him coming (he was known to incorporate humans into his dominance displays). These days, however, Frodo has been less than impressive. He is looking quite elderly (yet distinctive) with his grey back, he has lost some weight, he’s been completely disinterested in social interaction, and spends a lot of time hanging around camp. Nevertheless, he is still one of my favorites.
Yesterday, I set out in the morning specifically to find him. He was a little harder to find this past week and was due for a follow. After 3 hours of searching I heard the distinctive sound of a chimp scratching himself nervously from inside a clump of vines and, shortly thereafter, out wandered Frodo. He sauntered up to a log and sat for a bit looking around, trying to figure out what to do next. I was expecting him to climb up a palm tree and feed for a while, but, instead, he casually walked across the stream and sat in the trail underneath an unassuming clump of trees. Suddenly, Fudge bolted down and ran straight to Frodo. After an affectionate greeting, Fudge got down to buisness and began to groom him enthusiastically. As tourists came and went, snapping idealistic pictures of the two males, the grooming went on and on for no less than 2 hours. As I watched, my heart swelled a bit since I haven’t seen Frodo get much attention in a while. As the bout was winding down, an unexpected pant-hoot sounded from a nearby area. Frodo and Fudge froze, looked towards it, and then rushed in that direction. I was right on their heels as they took off back across the stream and headed towards the sound. Suddenly I saw Frodo expand in size as his hair stood on end, and Fudge quickly followed suit. Like a proud mother I looked on as he transformed into a version of his former self, charging into view of the other chimps, panthooting, drumming on tree buttresses and throwing vegetation. This was the first time I had seen Frodo display in the past 5 months. Soon, another pant-hoot was heard in the vicinity and the two took off again. In a chorus of rough-grunts (hear the calls here!), panthoots, and screams, Frodo joined a large group of chimps gathering at a mtobogoro tree. He scampered up, ate some fruit, and then relaxed as he received even more grooming, complements of his brother Faustino. Afterwards, when the excited group broke apart, Frodo spent the rest of the day basking in the company of Fudge and the G-family and even threw in a good ole’ Colobus monkey hunt for old times’ sake. As he gnawed on a chunk of meat high in a tree I reaffirmed Frodo as my favorite and rejoiced in the fact that he still has it in him, even after all these years.