Coprophagy in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a possibly adaptive strategy?
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Four cases of coprophagy and two cases of fecal inspection were identified during the 1142 h of observing wild bonobos at Wamba in the Luo Scientific Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At least 5 females in the study group practiced coprophagy and/or fecal inspection. According to our daily behavioral observations, boredom and stress, insufficient roughage, and the search for essential nutrients could not explain the coprophagy. Several episodes observed in this study indicated that bonobos might have sought and ingested certain valuable food items, such as hard Dialium seeds, in feces during relatively lean seasons. Although coprophagy occurred only rarely among wild bonobos, this practice appeared to represent a possibly adaptive feeding strategy during periods of food scarcity rather than a behavioral abnormality.
KeywordsBonobo Pan paniscus Coprophagy Inspect feces Adaptive strategy Wamba
This study was financially supported by the Global Environment Research Fund (F-061 to T. Nishida) of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment. I thank the Research Center for Ecology and Forestry (CREF) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for permission to conduct the fieldwork in the Luo Scientific Reserve. I am also grateful to N. Mwanza, M. Mulavwa, K. Yangozene, S. Kuroda, H. Takemoto, Y. Tsuji, the research assistants at Wamba, and other members of CREF for their support and cooperation in the field, as well as to T. Nishida, T. Furuichi, and members of the Wamba Committee for Bonobo Research for their encouragement and useful comments.
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