As Chris Weston was over with a photography workshop, Arie, Marcel and I took the opportunity to take the day off work for some ape photography.
It meant an early start for me – at 6.30 or so I left the house and took the tram to Leidschendam, where Marcel picked me up and drove to Arie’s house. One further stop to pick up Arie’s nephew, Ferron, and then we drove the final stretch to Apendoorn, arriving around 9.30. We thought we’d arrive just as it opened, but actually we were half an hour too early. Bit of a shame, as I’d have very much welcomed the extra half hour sleep!
Chris and his group arrived just as we bought the tickets, and after catching up, we headed off our separate ways – Marcel to the orangutans, and Arie, Ferron and I to take a general wander around the park.
The park is a combination of large enclosed areas for the larger primates, such as the orangutans, gorillas and bonobos, and also smaller apes which are allowed to roam freely.
After photographing some of the smaller monkeys, we moved on and spent quite a bit of time watching the bonobo family.
One of the young bonobos kept trying to sneak off and play, so its mother had to keep a firm grip on it.
Before we met up with the others for lunch, we spent some time with the orangutans. There wasn’t much happening when we arrived, just a couple orangutans taking a nap, but eventually two more came out and started to play with a sack. It’s amazing to see how acrobatic they are, tumbling all around the place, and swinging effortlessly between the ropes.
After lunch we went to watch the gorillas being fed. Apenheul has a very healthy gorilla population, with 5 babies born this year, the most recent only the day before.
Once the gorillas wandered off, we decided to have a look around and see what we’d missed in the morning. The ring tailed lemurs were very entertaining, and after running around and chasing each, they all crashed out, tangled up amongst each other.
Back at the bonobos, there were only a couple outside, and all directly beneath us – not great for photography, though we had some fun watching a young bonobo playing on the ropes.
In addition to the apes, there was also some birdlife, including a large number of cattle egrets and a few black crowned night herons.