, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 85-99

Censusing chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda

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Abstract

It is difficult to make valid comparisons of chimpanzee densities among sites because observers calculate them using different methods. We argue that nest count estimates of density are preferable to densities from home range estimates because of the problems of defining home range. There are many problems associated with nest count methods, some of which have not been addressed in previous studies. In 1992, we censused chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest using three methods;the standing crop nest count (SCNC), the marked nest count (MNC), and visual sightings of the animals (VS). Each method is based on standard line transect techniques. Of 96 nests monitored for decay rate,those constructed in the dry seasons decayed faster than those in the wet seasons. All- day follows of individual chimpanzees and observations of nesting chimpanzees at dusk showed that about 15.8% of night nests were reused,17.5% of the population did not build nests, and 18.8% of nests were first constructed as day nests. Given the variability in nest decay rates, we argue that MNC is a better method than SCNC because it avoids having to calculate decay rates.