, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 141–145 | Cite as

On the possible adaptive value of coprophagy in free-ranging chimpanzees

  • Sabrina KriefEmail author
  • Aliette Jamart
  • Claude-Marcel Hladik
Original Article


Coprophagy occurred during major periods of feeding on fruits of Dialium spp. (Caesalpiniaceae) in a group of orphaned chimpanzees released in Conkouati Douli National Park, Republic of Congo. Since stress, boredom or food scarcity could not explain coprophagy according to our daily behavioral and veterinary control observations, we suggest that Dialium seeds were the item of interest in the feces. Two types of Dialium seeds were commonly found in the feces after chimpanzees swallowed the mesocarp and whole seeds together. These seeds were either whole and hard or whole/broken and soft imbibed. A mechanical and/or chemical effect of the gut passage may enable the chimpanzees to chew and ingest the seeds, thus providing nutritional intake.


Coprophagy Pan troglodytes troglodytes Dialium spp. Feeding behavior 



S.K. is very grateful to HELP Congo for permission to conduct this study and to Professor Courreau and the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort for their support in this research. HELP is grateful for financial support from the following agencies: PROGECAP (GEF-Congo, under the auspices of the World Bank), US Fish and Wildlife Service (Great Ape Conservation Fund, grant No. 98210-1-GO94), Cleveland Zoological Society, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Arcus Foundation, International Primate Protection League, Humane Society International, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, Fondation Bourdon, Société Protectrice des Animaux, One Voice, Beauval Zoo, Amneville Zoo, La Barben Zoo, Gorilla, and Air Gabon. We also thank the authorities of the Republic of Congo and the Conkouati-Douli National Park staff for their collaboration and support. Thanks to persons who helped collect data, particularly to J.-M. Krief, P. Aczel, Dr. J. Paredes, S. Poullet-Paredes and field assistants N. Moutogo-Lissassaga, A. Taty-Dowel and G. Taty. Deepest gratitude to J.J. Fontaine for technical and logistic assistance. We thank Dr. C.E.G. Tutin for sharing her personal observations, for helpful advice in the field, her kind help and suggestions about this manuscript. We express our deepest thanks to Dr. M.A. Huffman for his valuable comments, thoughtful suggestions and useful unpublished information. We wish to express sincere thanks to Drs. A. Hladik and M. Ancrenaz for commenting on the manuscript, helpful discussions and generous support. We are highly indebted to E.G. Leigh for providing comments and constructive advice on a previous version of this manuscript. Finally, we are most grateful to an anonymous reviewer and to Dr. H. Takimoto for providing helpful comments to improve the submitted manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabrina Krief
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aliette Jamart
    • 2
  • Claude-Marcel Hladik
    • 1
  1. 1.Eco-anthropologieBrunoyFrance
  2. 2.HELP CongoPointe-NoireRepublic of Congo

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