By Amrita Carroll
FEAST YOUR EYES on this paradise island where the only inhabitants are chimpanzees.
Pictures show the charming chimps coming to greet their human friend as he brings them fresh food supplies from his canoe.
Other snaps show the great apes dipping their toes in the water, huddling around to catch up on the day’s events, while one solitary figure can be seen taking in a tree top view of the ocean while he finishes his lunch.
Irish Youth worker Marie Power (27) was one of four lucky tourists on the hollowed out wooden canoe and was able to snap these incredible scenes of the chimpanzee community at Monkey Island, Liberia.
“People always talk about chimpanzees being a close living relative to humans,” said Marie.
“Seeing these chimpanzees highlighted how human-like they are from their mannerisms and behaviours.
“You can see chimpanzees interacting with a local man who goes to feed and care for the chimps every day.
“The chimps are fed daily by three different people. They bring more food supplies to the island as there is not enough food on the island to sustain the chimps.
“The man we met had a different name for each chimp, he got out of his canoe and handed food directly to the chimps.
“He even told them off when they tried to take the food out of the canoe by themselves.
“Their personality was lovely, for most part they were very polite. One or two tried to be cheeky but they responded very well to the gentleman who cared for them.”
Chimpanzees share ninety-eight percent of human genetic blueprint. They live in social communities of several dozen animals.
They can grow to five and a half feet tall and weigh up to one hundred and thirty pounds. In the wild chimps live an average of forty-five years.
Chimps generally eat fruit and plants but they also consume insects, eggs and meat including carrion.
“The chimpanzees were used in the past for testing vaccines. They were released back into the wild as part of their retirement,” said Marie.
“There are five or six islands with chimps on most of them.
“Some of the chimps had to be separated to different islands because they did not get along with each other.
“It was a very surreal experience, we sat in the canoe just ten feet away, taking it all in.
“We were taken back by the relationship between the man caring for them and the chimps and silenced by the very human interactions the chimps were making.
“They communicated through body language and the chimps really listened to him.
“I never felt in danger, the gentleman that looks after them has such a good relationship with them and was able to tell one of the chimps to go away when she started to behave boisterously.
“We did bring a small bunch of bananas to give the chimpanzees which they enjoyed.
“My friend had visited Monkey Island by chance, and suggested me and my friends visit the island before we left Liberia.
“When people see these pictures they cannot believe that I came so close to chimpanzees without some sort of manmade barrier between us.”