Condensed tannins and sugars in the diet of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Budongo Forest, Uganda
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Fruits, leaves and bark forming part of the diet of chimpanzees were collected and it was noted whether samples were of a kind being eaten or not eaten. Samples were dried and analysed for condensed tannin content and for three sugars, glucose, sucrose and fructose. It was found that chimpanzees did not select foods according to the level of tannins but did so according to the levels of sugars, preferring the higher levels. Fig seeds contained higher tannin levels than fig pulp, and the chimpanzees made oral boli (“wadges”) of fig seeds which they spat out. Two fig species were compared: the one with lower tannin and higher sugar content was preferred. The bark of one tree species often eaten contained high levels of tannins but also contained sugars. Young leaves with lower tannin levels were preferred to mature leaves with higher levels. Chimpanzees appear to be able to tolerate higher tannin levels than three monkey species in this forest, and considerably higher levels than marmosets (Callitrichidae).
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