, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 361–374 | Cite as

The brush-stick of chimpanzees found in south-west Cameroon and their cultural characteristics

  • Yukimaru Sugiyama


The characteristics of the tool-behavior of chimpanzees were studied at the Campo Animal Reserve, in the south-west corner of the Republic of Cameroon between December 1984 and January 1985. The study area comprised tropical rain forest of which the canopy reached 30 m in height. Although the chimpanzees were shy, evidence of the tool-behavior could be obtained.

No evidence of nut-cracking ofCoula edulis by the chimpanzees using stone or wood hammers was found, although mature trees of this species were common in the study area and their nuts were well known to be cracked by the chimpanzees of Tai, Côte d'Ivoire, using stone or wood hammers during the fruiting season. The termite-tunnel probing-stalk which is commonly used by the chimpanzees at Gombe, Tanzania, and a few other study sites may not be employed by the chimpanzees of the present study area for collecting termites from the inside of the nest. One hundred and ten termitemound digging-sticks were found on the surface ofMacrotermes mulleri nests. Some sticks were found stabbing into the mound and others were just left on the mound where the marks of crushing were sometimes observed. Some stumps and upper parts of young trees which were abandoned after making stick-tools were identified and some sticks were confirmed to have been carried away. The length of the sticks (30.5–73.5 cm,\(\bar x\)=46.8 cm) and their width (diameter) (4–15 mm,\(\bar x\)=9.9 mm) were similar to those noted at Rio Muni (Equatorial Guinea). However, nearly half of the sticks in the present study area had a “brush” at one end which was seldom clogged with mud. The brush might be used for catching termites effectively.

Local differences in the chimpanzee cultural patterns were examined and confirmed for crosscultural variation.

Key Words

Chimpanzee Tool-behavior Termite-mound digging-stick Brush-stick Cross-cultural variation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. R., E. A. Williamson, &J. Carter, 1983. Chimpanzees of Sapo Forest, Liberia: Density, nest, tools, and meat-eating.Primates, 24: 594–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boesch, C. &H. Boesch, 1981. Sex differences in the use of natural hammers by wild chimpanzees: A preliminary report.J. Human Evol., 10: 585–593.Google Scholar
  3. ———— & ————, 1983. Optimisation of nut-cracking with natural hammers by wild chimpanzees.Behaviour, 83: 265–286.Google Scholar
  4. ———— & ————, 1984. Mental map in wild chimpanzees: An analysis of hammer transports for nut cracking.Primates, 25: 160–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodall, J., 1983. Population dynamics during a 15 year period in one community of free-living chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania.Z. Tierpsychol., 61: 1–60.Google Scholar
  6. Hladik, C. M., 1973. Alimentation et activité d'un groupe de chimpanzés réintroduits en forêt Gabonaise.Terre et Vie, 27: 343–413.Google Scholar
  7. Hoshino, J., 1985. Feeding ecology of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) in the Republic of Cameroon.Primates, 26: 248–273.Google Scholar
  8. ————,A. Mori, H. Kudo, &M. Kawai, 1984. Preliminary report on the grouping of mandrillus (Mandrillus sphinx) in Cameroon.Primates, 25: 295–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jones, C. &J. Sabater Pí, 1969. Sticks used by chimpanzees in Rio Muni, West Africa.Nature, 223: 100–101.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Lawick-Goodall, J. van, 1973. Cultural elements in chimpanzee community. In:Precultural Primate Behavior,E. W. Menzel,Jr. (ed.), S. Karger, Basel, pp. 26–50.Google Scholar
  11. Letouzey, R., 1968.Etude phytogéographique du Cameroun. P. Lechevalier, Paris.Google Scholar
  12. McGrew, W. C., 1974. Tool use by wild chimpanzees in feeding upon driver ants.J. Human Evol., 3: 501–508.Google Scholar
  13. ————, 1983. Animal foods in the diets of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Why cross-cultural variation?J. Ethol., 1: 46–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ————,C. E. G. Tutin, &P. J. Baldwin, 1979. Chimpanzees, tools, and termites: Cross-cultural comparisons of Senegal, Tanzania, and Rio Muni.Man (N.S.), 14: 185–214.Google Scholar
  15. ———— &M. E. Rogers, 1983. Chimpanzees, tools, and termites: New record from Gabon.Amer. J. Primatol., 5: 171–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nishida, T., 1979. The social structure of chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. In:The Great Apes, Vol. 5,D. A. Humburg &E. R. McCown (eds.), Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, pp. 73–121.Google Scholar
  17. ————, 1980. Culture of chimpanzees.Kagaku, 50: 146–154. (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  18. ———— &M. Hiraiwa, 1982. Natural history of a tool-using behavior by wild chimpanzees in feeding upon wood-boring ants.J. Human Evol., 11: 73–99.Google Scholar
  19. ———— &S. Uehara, 1980. Chimpanzees, tools, and termites: Another example from Tanzania.Curr. Anthropol., 21: 671–672.Google Scholar
  20. Ohigashi, H. &K. Koshimizu, 1985. Search for useful plants in tropical forest of Cameroon.Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi, 59: 459–463. (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  21. Sabater Pí, J., 1974. An elementary industry of the chimpanzees in the Okorobiko Mountains, Rio Muni (Republic of Equatorial Guinea), West Africa.Primates, 15: 351–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Struhsaker, T. T. &P. Hunkeler, 1971. Evidence of tool-using by chimpanzees in the Ivory Coast.Folia Primatol., 15: 212–219.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Sugiyama, Y., 1978.Peoples and Chimpanzees of Bossou—Ecology of West African Remote Country. Kinokuniya-Shoten, Tokyo. (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  24. ————, 1984.Human Nature in Non-human Primates. Nobunkyo, Tokyo. (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  25. ———— &J. Koman, 1979. Tool-using and making behavior in wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea.Primates, 20: 513–524.Google Scholar
  26. Teleki, G., 1974. Chimpanzee subsistence technology: materials and skills.J. Human Evol., 3: 575–594.Google Scholar
  27. Whitesides, G., 1985. Nut-cracking by wild chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, West Africa.Primates, 26: 91–94.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yukimaru Sugiyama
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityAichiJapan

Personalised recommendations