Influence of chimpanzee predation on the red colobus population at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda
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Frequent hunting of red colobus monkeys (Procolobus rufomitratus) takes place at all long-term chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) study sites where both species are present. Red colobus are the most commonly selected prey of chimpanzees even when other monkey species are more abundant. In particular, the chimpanzee community at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda, preys heavily on red colobus monkeys: the chimpanzee hunting success rate is extremely high, and chimpanzees kill many individuals per successful hunt. Census data had suggested that the red colobus population is declining and that predation by chimpanzees may be contributing to this decline. In this paper, I address the impact of hunting on the red colobus population at Ngogo. To test the hypothesis that chimpanzee hunting is sustainable, I am using demographic data collected on red colobus monkeys over a period of 3 years, as well as fecundity and mortality data from previous studies of this species. I apply matrix models and vortex analyses using a sensitivity analysis approach to project future population development. Results show that current rates of hunting are not sustainable, but that chimpanzees are neither more “noble”, nor more “savage” than humans are, but that they also hunt to ensure maximum benefit without regard for the consequences for the prey population.