African Greys on Príncipe Island
African Greys are prevalent on Príncipe Island. They mate for life and you can spot them easily flying around in pairs. Because of their short tails, they have a distinctive shape when flying. The most famous of them all is Chaplin and she resides at Bom Bom resort. She certainly deserves a blog post of her own.
I was eager to find out more about Chaplin, after the African Grey joined me for breakfast one morning. To say I was slightly bemused is an understatement. I had to share most of what was on my plate with this tame bird, who made herself comfortable on my table.
Chaplin, The African Grey
Our bird-watching guide told us the story of Chaplin, Bom Bom’s pet African Grey, which goes something like this (my recount might not be 100% because our guide’s English wasn’t perfect and my Portuguese non-existent, so excuse me if I don’t get all the facts right):
There used to be a lot of African Greys in captivity at Bom Bom, in the days when it belonged to Christian Hellinger, the original owner. When Unesco got involved in the world heritage rights of Príncipe, they freed all the birds. All but one, Chaplin, remained at Bom Bom. The guide went on to tell us that African Greys mate for life and every year when the female lays an egg, she stays with the egg until it hatches, which can take up to a month. During this time the male feeds the female. Now, every year since the birds at Bom Bom were freed, Chaplin would lay an egg, although she has no mate. A member of staff follows her, and he keeps her nest a secret. He continues to feed her until the time of supposed hatching, to save her from starving.
Like I said above, I’m not sure about all the facts, but I love the story of this particular African Grey. I’ve spotted Chaplin on social media more than once since our trip to Príncipe in 2017.
If you know a different version of Chaplin’s tale, please do get in touch and let us know. We’d be very interested to hear it.