An irreplaceable natural history of the famous chimpanzees of Gombe National Park.
"There lives a society far away that we came to know. It imposes fewer inhibitions on its citizens than perhaps any modern society. There are very few cultural constraints of appearance and behavior on its members. The meager rules of conduct that do exist are implicit and well understood. These norms are almost always followed so that there are no policemen, judges, and lawyers. This society is a fine example of self-regulated social conduct." (from the Preface)
The Gombe chimpanzees are probably the most famous group of wild animals in history, having been observed and chronicled for more than 50 years. Through studies initiated by paleontologist and anthropologist Louis Leakey and carried out by primatologist Jane Goodall, people worldwide know some of the names and stories of the Gombe chimpanzees. The intimate portraits in Tales from Gombe reveal their inner lives and introduce the social dynamics, the dynasties and the key players.
Over the course of the last decade, Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers have dedicated long periods of their time to studying the various dynasties, photographing the key players and observing their actions. In Tales from Gombe they introduce the different characters and tell the fascinating stories of their lives, through both words and breathtaking photography.
The story turns out to be an epic saga of convoluted plots, family alliances, love, passion, suffering, ambition, politics, puzzles, surprises and controversies. But while the book intrigues and entertains, it also matches science with art to provide a thought-provoking experience that leaves the reader with greater understanding of primate life and a strong sense of empathy and respect.
Anup Shah and Fiona Rogers are a married British couple who specialize in photographing wild primates. Anup's first of many assignments for National Geographic was a story on the Gombe chimpanzees in 2003. Three large-format books followed, Circle of Life, African Odyssey, and Serengeti Spy, as well as a feature in Wildlife: The World's Top Photographers and the Stories Behind Their Greatest Images. He has won a number of categories in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and is one of the 10 "masters" in the Firefly book Masters of Nature Photography. Fiona Rogers' photos have been published as full-length features in leading magazines including the Smithsonian, Geo, BBC Wildlife and National Wildlife.
There lives a society far away that we came to know. It imposes fewer inhibitions on its citizens than perhaps any other society. There are very few cultural constraints on the appearance and behaviour of its members. The meagre rules of conduct that do exist are implicit and well understood. These norms are almost always followed, so there are no policemen, judges or lawyers. This society is a fine example of self-regulated social conduct.
As a consequence, its members have had no need to create a mask to impress the world. Their eccentricities and their idiosyncrasies have had the chance to develop in the confines of their society, and it does not occur to them that they have anything to conceal. So they express their oddities, personalities and emotions without inhibition, and you can't but help admire their frankness and openness.
We observed the members of this society over long periods of time. We came to realise that since they expressed themselves freely, there was a wide diversity of personalities. We found it difficult to use scientific methods to analyse, categorise and measure them. Indeed, it would have been a distortion of the truth to reduce our observations to data. So all the analytical tools we had been brought up with were rendered useless and, in fact, would have been misleading had we applied them.
We also struggled to find another society to which we could reference them. We came to realise that just as the individuals in this society are unique personalities, the society itself is unique. We had to have a seismic shift in our mind-sets. Thus we now think that a study of a tribe cannot be done properly. Perhaps there is no such thing as 'the tribe nature' or 'the tribe condition' or, by extension, 'human nature' and 'the human condition'. These are concepts we cling to because, perhaps, we prefer easy thinking to complex reality; we prefer reducing diversity to suit the limitations of our thinking abilities. We now believe that there are only stories of individuals, their unique struggles and triumphs and their unique interactions. Fortunately, we are photographers and have learnt to observe with a different eye. As photographers, we are not constrained by the strict requirements of modern science to study the minutiae. We can view a society as a whole.
Thus liberated, we shed our assumptions, discarded our analytical tools, opened our eyes wide and saw riches all around.
Preface Chapter 1: The F, G, And T Dynasties Chapter 2: Fifi's Boys: Freud vs. Frodo Chapter 3: The Struggle for Power Chapter 4: Kris, Fanni and Others Chapter 5: The New Order Chapter 6: Strange Happenings in the G Dynasty Chapter 7: More Bizarre Events in the G Dynasty Chapter 8: The Rise of the S Dynasty Chapter 9: The Minor Dynasties and the Immigrants Chapter 10: The Ones We Lost Chapter 11: The Male Hierarchy Appendix 1: Dynasty Trees Appendix 2: Leaders at Kasekela Appendix 3: Resources