, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 747-765
Date: 06 Jul 2006

Behavioral Adaptation of Pan troglodytes troglodytes

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As wild primate populations decline, numbers of orphaned primates, sanctuaries, and attempts to release primates back to the natural environment increase. Release projects frequently are poorly documented despite IUCN guidelines recommending post-release monitoring and systematic data collection as central to the process. Since 1996, Habitat Ecologique et Liberté des Primates (HELP) has been releasing wild-born orphaned chimpanzees into natural habitat in the Conkouati-Douli National Park, Republic of Congo. HELP developed a post-release monitoring system as an integral component. We present activity budgets and diet of released chimpanzees, and compared them to those of wild chimpanzee, as primary indicators of successful release. Feeding, moving, and resting dominated activity budgets, reflecting the overall patterns in wild populations. Diet was diverse and dominated by fruit, and the released chimpanzees showed specialization on a smaller number of species, as in many wild communities. The high survival rates of the chimpanzees and overall success of the release program are attributed to careful planning and post-release support facilitated via the monitoring process. Systematic post-release data collection monitoring has confirmed that wild-born chimpanzees can adjust behaviorally and nutritionally to the wild. Survival statistics of the reintroduced chimpanzees—confirmed 56%, possible 88%— reflect the behavioral adaptability.

2nd revision March 11, 2005
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10764-006-9068-6