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Human Nature

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 27–46 | Cite as

Cooperative hunting roles among taï chimpanzees

  • Christophe Boesch
Article

Abstract

All known chimpanzee populations have been observed to hunt small mammals for meat. Detailed observations have shown, however, that hunting strategies differ considerably between populations, with some merely collecting prey that happens to pass by while others hunt in coordinated groups to chase fast-moving prey. Of all known populations, Taï chimpanzees exhibit the highest level of cooperation when hunting. Some of the group hunting roles require elaborate coordination with other hunters as well as precise anticipation of the movements of the prey. The meat-sharing rules observed in this community guarantee the largest share of the meat to hunters who perform the most important roles leading to a capture. The learning time of such hunting roles is sometimes especially long. Taï chimpanzee males begin hunting monkeys at about age 10. The hunters’ progress in learning the more sophisticated hunting roles is clearly correlated with age; only after 20 years of practice are they able to perform them reliably. This lengthy learning period has also been shown in some hunter-gatherer societies and confirms the special challenge that hunting represents.

Key words

Chimpanzee Hunting Cooperation Sharing 

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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany

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