Cessna 206 start up, take off, landing
Primatology; Bili Ape; Chimpanzee
Primatology; Bili Ape; Gorilla; Chimpanzee
NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
7 Feb 2001
- Entebbe; Entebbe International Airport
- 0.04444 32.4425
- 1:57 - 14:55
- Arua; Arua Airport
- 3.04722 30.91222
- 26:48 - 1:05:17
- Sennheiser MKH 30
- Sennheiser MKH 40
Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo
NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: Bili Ape Expedition
Log of DAT #: 1
Date: February 7, 2001
ng = not good
g = good
vg = very good
00:30 -Cessna 206 prepares for take-off from Entebbe, with Alex Chadwick, Chuck Thompson, Christophe Boesch, Richard Wrangham, and pilot Ron Pontier.
01 :45 -Lord, thank you for beautiful weather and a smooth flight on to Entebbe. Just pray you give us a good trip on to Arua and we'll give you thanks. In Jesus name amen
02:05 -Engine revving ...
03:25 -RP on radio -"we are 5 souls on board, with 4 hours endurance ... cleared for take off' ... more plane idling ...
07:17 -RP on radio: "Roger, we are taxi-ing for take off, Entebbe to Arua, we are 5 souls on board, that's one plus four, with fire hours endurance ... Affirm, I'll call you in the air."... More plane idling ...
09:20 -Rev and go for take off. In the air by 10:54 ... Describing what's happened ...
11 :35 -Landing in Arua, Uganda ... Disembark through 17:45 and more. Most of this, including landing, probably not useful, but will need general ambience at this place with some punctuation ...
18:30 -Pouring fuel? Refueling ambi ...
20:26 -Pouring fuel. Refueling ambi.
26:40 --Cristophe Boesch. Working on chimpanzees for 20 years. Director at Max Plank Institute in Lipsieg ... biologist from training, but working with chimps, interested in questions of human evolution, what falls in area of 'biological anthropology.'
27:35 -You have some skepticism about this mystery ape?
27:50 -We have from information that there is a population of chimpanzees. And he has some observations of traces -like nest-building on the ground, breaking branches, footprints. And knowing a bit how variable a chimpanzee's behavior can be, they can make nests on the ground, the regularly make nests on the ground, they can break very big branches. Depending on the terrain, a footprint can have different sizes. So, as a scientist, I am simply coming from the side, Okay that might be something we already know. But, obviously it's puzzling, that's why I'm here.
28:45 -yeah, it's puzzling. Even if it's only chinos, some of this evidence indicates that we might have some interesting behaviors present in this chimpanzee population. That's personally for me, very interesting.
29:20 -Room tone ... description of what has passed.
30:00 -Footsteps on graveL ..
32:36 -Tracking Piece One, first take.
38:10 Getting picture of airstrip
39:30 Day one, we left Nairobi a little after dawn, and flew north for hours, hours, until we got here. Here is a little Ugandan border town called Arua. All the way up, we stayed to the east, in the safe, comfortable airspace of Kenya and Uganda ... To the west, it's not safe. There is the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Central African tragedy that's been running for more than a century. The cruel torture of Belgian colonialism, the CIA strike against independence, the corruption and disunity that's followed and the rebel wars today.
40:34 If you ask the state department, they'll tell you this is a place to avoid, because the Congo is at war with itself and everyone's losing. But as soon as we that plane refueled, we're going in. We're traveling hundreds of miles, to a little-known section of forest in Northern Congo, where some of the world's top experts on ape behavior are quietly gathering. Two of them are on the plane with us, including a Harvard anthropologist, Richard Wrangham.
41:39 The place we're going in Northern Congo is called Bili, B-i-I-i. It's got a couple of missions, a small village, a dirt airstrip, and now a growing company of scientists. The other passenger on the plane is Swiss Anthropologist, Christophe Boesch. (two takes)
42:20 I don't have much idea about how to find a chimpanzee in the forest, let alone a mysterious ape. But these are the best primatologists in the world. Whatever is there, they have a real chance to find. And we'll begin that search tomorrow. (two takes)
43:09 For Radio Expeditions, on a dirt airstrip in Arua, Uganda, I'm Alex Chadwick for NPR News.
44:05 I'm Richard Wrangham. I'm professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.
AC: Sum up why we're here? .. CT: have to move ...
45:15 In the Bili area, we have this extraordinary situation, where we know that there's a population of chimpanzees there, but in addition, we have some evidence that there is something else there. And it's possible that all it is is a very large bodied chimpanzee, but in 1908, we had to skulls come out of the Congo labeled "Bondo" and they reached Belgium and they looked like gorillas. And to make matters stranger, two years ago, I('arl AfYlmo.nn went into this area in search of those gorillas and he found nests, he found dung, he found prints of both hands and feet and all of these look like gorillas and when he sent off hairs to the experts, those who looked at the hairs said, "yes, these are gorillas." But then Pascal Gardner and Beatrice Hun did the genetic analysis and those are chimpanzees. And is it possible that there is a large ape out there that has become like a gorilla but is still a close descendent of the chimpanzees? That's the ultimate prize.
AC: Would this be a new species of chimpanzees?
46:40 Yeah, well...we don't know. We have to see how big it is and how different it is from chimpanzees. The dung that karl has reported so far has looked very gorilla-like. No one has seen this animal. It's possible that we have a species that actually looks like a gorilla, but is related to a chimp. In which case, it's not a chimpanzee, because it looks like a gorilla, and it's not a gorilla because it's descended directly from a chimp. So it would be a new species of ape. And that's the amazing thing, that somewhere in Africa, even after all the years of zoological exploration, we have areas large enough to hold populations that we don't know what they are and could be undiscovered species. It's obviously not likely, but the evidence at the moment is strange and confusing and it would be wonderful to have a chance to sort it out.
AC: What are you going to do there?
47:40 Well, the first thing to do is try to see these animals. It's very unlikely that we'll be able to, but that will be the aim. We're going to walk through the forest. karl will have all the local information on where to go to have the best chances, but what I want to do is look for the signs that an ape is present and go off very quietly into those areas and use the bushcraft I'm familiar with to find them.
AC: Do pretext again with bongo skulls explained.
49:05 In 1908, there were 2 skulls that emerged out of the northern part of the Congo. They were labeled as coming out of a town called Bondo. Six or 8 towns called Bondo in the Congo. Clearly labeled as coming from there, collected by two collectors ... AC breaks in ...
50:20 We're going to the Northern part of the Demo Republic of Congo, which is smack between the two areas that we now know hold gorillas. Those are West Africa from Nigeria to Cameroon and the Congo on the west and then east of us now, there is the little population of gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and Zaire. There's a gap of about 600 miles where there's supposed to be no gorillas. But there's evidence now that there may be, right there in the middle. That's where we're going, to see if a population may live 400 miles from anywhere that we've seen gorillas before.
AC: What would these creatures be? Gorillas?
51:10 It's a mystery. It's a mystery what they are. There is something out there that's making large nests on the ground. They could be gorillas, they could be a large species of chimpanzees, and they could possibly be something that no one has seen before. Some new species of African ape.
AC: This is an area where you wouldn't expect to find gorillas?
51:40 Yeah ... gorilla distribution is mysterious. Everyone's always been puzzled that these two large blobs of gorilla distribution in the West and the East of Africa are separated by chunks of forest, almost continuous forest, where you don't have nay gorillas. It's not quite certain why they are not there. Presumably it's because you have the wrong kinds of food ... so the question is, if you have gorillas in this tiny area in the middle of this gorilla desert where there haven't been any recorded before, then why are they there ... and what are they? Right ... there are these skulls that are supposed to have come out of the area and they look very much like gorillas. They came out about a hundred years ago and it's very clear which gorillas they look like. It's not the eastern, it's the western. And they're not halfway between the eastern and the western, it's pretty much smack dab like western gorillas, so that just raises the mystery further. If there are indeed western gorillas living 400 miles from the nearest western gorillas, 400 miles east of them, how did they get there, and why aren't there any between them?
AC: genetic evidence. That suggests these are actually chimpanzees.
53:40 Weird situation is that the signs left in the forest as if they are made by a gorilla are by an animal that left hairs that are clearly genetically chimpanzees' ...
54:00 gets noisy, have to move ...
AC: totally weird genetics
55:00 You've got the discontinuity ... so you've got two really weird things. On the one hand, you've got the discontinuity where the problem is, why on earth should you have a little population of gorillas separated on either side from the eastern and western gorillas. Why are there no others in the middle. And then the additional, very peculiar feature of what we've found so far is that hairs which come out of the nests, which look as though they've been made by gorillas are genetically undoubtedly chimpanzee. They are related very closely, in fact they are indistinguishable from the east and central African chimpanzee. What that means, if we have no mistakes in the data so far, we have an animal that is gorilla behaving, gorilla-sized, but related to chimpanzees. That means you've got either a very large chimp that's on the verge of being a gorilla, or you have a chimpanzee that has become a gorilla, in which case, we're talking about something that's totally new. It's got to be something that's not a chimpanzee of a gorilla. And what I like about that is not just we might be able to find something, but that this uncertainty signals how much remains to be discovered. There are parts of Africa that have been very little explored. There are still great things to be found out.
0:57:00 Ambiance, with rooster
57:30 Cruising to Bili in Cessna. Engine drone, no talk, then into landing and taxi and engine out at about 1:05:00. Then long section of crowd at plane.
1:06:34 Crowd around plane ... good.
1:09:29AC: So many people out here to say hello to the airplane. KA: Yeah, it's usually like that. A big form of entertainment ...
1:10:15 Voices speaking: French and native ...
1:12:10 RW: We have arrived ...
1:14:40 Children laugh
1:15:22 Transport truck door closes, engine starts, drives away.
1:16:20 Nice truck drive, rough roads, slow -lots of ambi of squeaking shocks. CAC note: maybe tie in decline of village, soldiers through loss of animals, threat to wildlife, regression from livestock to living off the land)
1:20:00 Continuing drive through Bili.
1:20:38 Pass by kids, kids yell.
1:25:11 AC: Welcome to Bili ... car door slams ...
1:26:00 End drive at Nikko's compound.