, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 157-170

Rates of predation on mammals by gombe chimpanzees, 1972–1975

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Abstract

Rates of chimpanzee predation on mammals are calculated using data on 75 kills recorded during focal observation in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, from January 1972 to April 1975. The chimpanzees were members of two study communities (Kanyawara, or Northern, and Kahama, or Southern, community), and were observed as focal individuals for 14,583 hr by more than 30 researchers and field assistants working in pairs. The rate of predation by females was too low to allow reasonable estimates. For males, the mean rate of killing during the study period was 0.31 kills per male per 100 hr (N=17 males), or 4.65 kills per 100 hr in the two communities. In contrast to results from Mahale Mountains, there was no difference in predation rate between wet and dry seasons. However, predation rates varied over time, increasing by four times between the first three and last four seasons of the sample period. In an average year the 15 adult and subadult male chimpanzees are calculated to have killed 204 prey per year in an area of 16 km2, varying between 99 and 420 prey per year in periods of low and high predation rate. Red colobus were the most frequent prey, followed by bushpig and bushbuck. Predation rates varied greatly on different prey species, and were not related to either the proportion of time spent within 200 m of male chimpanzees, or to their population densities. In relation to encounter rates and population density, baboons, blue monkeys, and redtail monkeys were killed at a fraction of the rate of red colobus monkeys, which suffered severe mortality from chimpanzee predation. Predation on bushpig and bushbuck also appears to have been high in relation to population density. The amount of food provided by predation is estimated to have averaged 600 kg per year for chimpanzees in the two communities (totalling 14–17 adult or subadult males, 18–20 adult of subadult females, and about 19 infants or juveniles). This suggests that adult males consumed around 25 kg of meat per year, although any average figure undoubtedly masks considerable individual variation. Present data suggest that chimpanzees in Gombe and Tai National Park, Ivory Coast, prey on mammals at rates higher than other populations.