Return to Ngamba Island – Day 94

Posted on June 5, 2012


It was a spontaneous trip and I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to go, but on Monday I managed to crowbar in a visit to Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria to see the wonderful staff who looked after me so well and the chimps I filmed two years ago.

The speedboat I hitched a ride on was effectively chartered for two far more important guests but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. There was a lovely woman from Dallas, Texas called Barbara who has been a long-time supporter of the sanctuary and helps with its marketing as well as the new executive director of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), Julie Sherman, who had come straight from a workshop in Nairobi.

Lilly Ajarova (Director of Ngamba Island) with Julie Sherman new executive director of PASA

Lilly Ajarova (Director of Ngamba Island) with Julie Sherman new executive director of PASA

The journey was very choppy as we bounced our way across the lake for 50 minutes, occasionally getting drenched by a large wave, all I could think was the Northerner would have been sick by now.

It was surreal to be back on the island. The sounds of the chimps rang out across the water as we pulled in and it felt good hearing their calls. On land as I walked into the staff area mouths fell open and there was a lot of double taking and exclamations. I received big bear hugs all around and 101 questions where I had been in Uganda followed by a berating for not coming earlier.

The first stop was to see the new arrivals. The babies of the group who I had filmed have grown up so they have moved out of the dusk enclosure and are now integrated with the adults. I hardly recognised Baron and Afrika. The four new recruits are rescued chimps from Sudan, they are just babies. They are fitting in well and appear to be in better shape than when they were first found. Some of the female adults have taken then under their wings. The star attraction is young Sara who has all the characteristics of a ‘poster girl’. Big brown eyes, a cheeky grin but rather large ears!

Sara - an orphaned chimp rescued from Sudan

Sara – an orphaned chimp rescued from Sudan

The time flew by and before I knew I was back in Entebbe and sprinting back to my hotel to meet the Wee Bern. It’s been three full months since we had dinner together and tonight I was also going to meet her parents who had flown in to have a holiday with her. Dinner was lovely and we swapped stories about our fieldwork, lamented about the mountain we have to climb completing our thesis in 2 months’ time and agreed it was sad to be leaving.

I have no idea where the time has gone but I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I’m back once more but next time with The Northerner in tow.