A moving, heartwarming memoir about a conservation hero and real-life chimpanzee whisperer – now the subject of the award-winning documentary film Pant Hoot.
Stany Nyandwi's gift for communicating with chimpanzees is so special that world-renowned primatologist Dr Jane Goodall has called him a "chimpanzee whisperer". His skills and devotion to these creatures-our closest living relatives, with whom we share 98.7 per cent of our DNA-have earned him international awards and sent him on travels within Africa and around the world. But he began life in poverty, born and raised in a dirt-floor, straw-roofed hut in rural Burundi. The Chimpanzee Whisperer is the story of his astonishing life journey.
It is also an African story. Receiving only an elementary education before he quit school, he suffered injustice and tragic loss because of his ethnic group. He began caring for orphaned and rescued chimps in Burundi. When the country descended into civil war and genocide, he was forced to flee with the chimps and endured a long separation from his family. Continuing to work with and learn about chimpanzees in Kenya, Uganda, and later South Africa, he made himself into an incomparable authority.
His memoir has adventure, danger, and many unique and touching stories about chimpanzees that show his bond with and understanding of them. As told to award-winning author David Blissett, it reveals a remarkable man who has refused to let circumstances defeat him. Conditioned by hate, wounded by loss, he has lived for love, faith, and compassion, giving new life, as Dr Jane Goodall writes in her foreword, "to so many chimpanzees whose families, like his own, were torn apart by violence".
Stany Nyandwi is a leading chimpanzee caregiver and behavioural specialist, awarded and celebrated around the globe. He is currently the primate manager at the Jane Goodall Institute of South Africa Sanctuary, Chimp Eden. In 2019 Stany was the subject of the multi-award-winning short documentary, Pant Hoot, which also features Dr Jane Goodall. He lives in Uganda with his wife and eight children, four of whom they adopted.
David Blissett is an award-winning author of fiction as well as numerous nonfiction works, including Snake Catcher, co-written with Tony Harrison; Our Primate Family, co-written with primate expert and conservationist Lou Grossfeldt; and Reflections of Elephants, with photographer Bobby-Jo Clow. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, is world-renowned for her trailblazing work studying chimpanzee behaviour in the wild. She founded the Gombe Stream Research Center in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and the Jane Goodall Institute for Wild Life Research, Education, and Conservation and is the author of many books. Among her honours is appointment as a UN Messenger of Peace.
"It was clear from the start that he had a real gift for working with these creatures [...] He was able to communicate with them in a special way to the point that we called him a 'chimpanzee whisperer.' [...] I hope you will be inspired by this life story of a gentle, unassuming African man whose devotion and sacrifice has given new life to so many chimpanzees whose families, like his own, were torn apart by violence."
– Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, from her foreword
"An incredible true story about one of the most courageous, loving, and kind people we have ever worked with. Stany has a unique gift with chimpanzees. He understands them and they understand him. The bond Stany shares with our closest living relative is a testament to the small distance that divides us, and argues even more strongly for their protection."
– Vanessa Woods and Professor Brian Hare, New York Times bestselling authors of The Genius of Dogs
"The story of a gifted and utterly unique man. Stany's is a story of accomplishment in the face of overwhelming adversity and the power of love over injustice and hate. Beautifully told and very inspiring."
– Patti Ragan, founding director, Center for Great Apes, Wauchula, Florida
"Stany's harrowing story is about survival and trust-his trust of fellow human beings, who sometimes failed him, and his love for his friends the chimps and their love for him, which allowed him to survive when humans faltered. Most of all it is about the unconditional love we must all have for each other, for the animals and for our planet. David Blissett has beautifully told Stany's story. Please read and enjoy."
– Bernie Caulfield, Emmy-winning producer of Game of Thrones
"Ever since meeting Stany Nyandwi in Uganda, I have been fascinated by how well he understands chimpanzees, and how calm they are in his presence. This comes through clearly in his truly inspiring and gripping memoir, which also tells an important story about the ethnic conflict in his country of Burundi and how he overcame significant challenges as a refugee."
– Glady Kalema-Zikusoka, wildlife veterinarian, founder of Conservation Through Public Health, and author of Walking with Gorillas