My Name is Baluku
The life of a Chimpanzee is quite interesting, in that we make it easy to be captured and turned into pets. That was my demise too, I’m not any different from any of my brothers and sisters here at Ngamba Island, the only difference is, it was harder integrating me in the adult group than it probably was for the rest.
Every time I think about it, I get reduced to tears because if I wasn’t kidnapped from my family, I wouldn’t have lost 2 fingers on my left hand and sustained injuries in my right arm, head and right eye.
But those are some of the dangers and risks we face when taken away from our families and introduced to total strangers in different forests.
I was…years when it happened, it was the fourth day of May 2001 and I was optimistic to meet the older Chimpanzees. They first put me in the Holding Facility with Robbie and the good girls Connie and Becky for 30 minutes.
When the care givers saw we were playing well together they released us into the forest but a couple of minutes in, Robbie turned on me and bit off my middle finger on the left hand, coupled with heavy beating, I climbed a nearby tree with the help of Connie whose back I was on top of while the other female Chimpanzees followed suite leaving Robbie down.
Unfortunately Connie left me a few metres on my own on the tree and having been injured by Robbie the then Alpha male, I slide off the tree and fell down further injuring my right eye and getting deep wounds on my right hand.
The care givers saw me after a couple of minutes and took me out of the forest and rushed me to the nearby Veterinary Hospital at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe where I got 38 stitches and an amputation of a second finger on the left hand hence losing two fingers.
When I look at those two stamps on my left hand, it makes me think about the, what if’s? What if I had never been kidnapped from my mother and ended up in pet trade? Would my life be better or not?
But those are all questions left to my imagination; I am fully integrated now thanks to my adoptive Chimp mother Cindy who eased the pain as it came I am stronger now and all grown up.
I am… years old and I have lived at Ngamba Island for… years. My life picked up after all. It would really be nice if you came to visit because then you’ll get to see how much I’ve survived out here.
1000 Pant Hoots