International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 83-94

First online:

Tool Use by Chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda

  • David P. WattsAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Yale University Email author 

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Chimpanzees make and use a wide variety of tools in the wild. The size and composition of their toolkits vary considerably among populations and at least to some extent within them. Chimpanzees at several well documented sites mostly use tools in extractive foraging, and extractive tool use can substantially increase their foraging efficiency. They also use tools for hygiene and for several other purposes, including attracting the attention of conspecifics, as in leaf-clipping. Some of the interpopulation variation in toolkits results from ecological variation, but differences in the efficiency of social transmission, perhaps related to differences in social tolerance, presumably also contribute. I describe tool use by chimpanzees in an unusually large community at Ngogo, in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Researchers have described some tool use for the community previously, but this is the most extensive report and is based on observations over 11 yr. The Ngogo chimpanzees have a small toolkit and use tools rarely except in leaf-clipping displays and to clean body surfaces; notably, males often use leaf napkins to wipe their penes after copulation. Extractive tool use is rare and is limited mostly to leaf-sponging and, less often, honey-fishing. Social tolerance is not low at Ngogo, but use of tools for extractive foraging, in ways documented at other field sites, may have little potential to increase foraging efficiency. Future research will undoubtedly show more tool use by females, which were underrepresented in my observations, but will probably not document much increase in the toolkit or in the use of extractive tools.


chimpanzees extractive foraging leaf-clipping Ngogo tools