, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 1-28

Hunting Behavior of Chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda

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Abstract

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) prey on a variety of vertebrates, mostly on red colobus (Procolobus spp.) where the two species are sympatric. Variation across population occurs in hunting frequency and success, in whether hunting is cooperative, i.e., payoffs to individual hunters increase with group size, and in the extent to which hunters coordinate their actions in space and time, and in the impact of hunting on red colobus populations. Also, hunting frequency varies over time within populations, for reasons that are unclear. We present new data on hunting by chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda, and combine them with earlier data (Mitani and Watts, 1999, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 109: 439–454) to examine hunting frequency and success, seasonality, and cooperation. The Ngogo community is the largest and has the most males of any known community. Chimpanzees there mostly hunt red colobus and are much more successful and make many more kills per hunt than at other sites; they kill 6–12% of the red colobus population annually. The number of kills and the offtake of meat per hunt increase with the number of hunters, but per capita meat intake is independent of hunting party size; this suggests that cheating occurs in large parties. Some behavioral cooperation occurs. Hunting success and estimated meat intake vary greatly among males, partly due to dominance rank effects. The high overall success rate leads to relatively high average per capita meat intake despite the large number of consumers. The frequency of hunts and of hunting patrols varies positively with the availability of ripe fruit; this is the first quantitative demonstration of a relationship between hunting frequency and the availability of other food, and implies that the chimpanzees hunt most when they can easily meet energy needs from other sources. We provide the first quantitative support for the argument that variation in canopy structure influences decisions to hunt red colobus because hunts are easier where the canopy is broken.