, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 405–411 | Cite as

Evidence of tool-use by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) for digging out a bee-nest in the Kahuzi-biega national park, Zaïre

  • Juichi Yamagiwa
  • Takakazu Yumoto
  • Mwanza Ndunda
  • Tamaki Maruhashi
Short Communication


Two sticks were found near a broken bee-nest ofMeliplebeia tanganyikae aff.nigritaAlfken in the Mt. Kahuzi region of Zaïre, and were thought to have been used by a chimpanzee or perhaps several chimpanzees to dig out the subterranean nest. Honey, larvae, and most of the nest had been eaten by them. We did not find any evidence to indicate tool-use by chimpanzees in the Masisi or Itebero-Utu regions, although stingless bees were observed and honey was eaten by chimpanzees in both regions. The sticks resembled in length and diameter those known to be employed for digging termite-mounds in south-west Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The tool-behavior of the chimpanzees observed at Mt. Kahuzi may be similar to that of those in central Africa, rather than of those in east Africa where digging-tools have yet to be found. Another possibility is that the chimpanzees have developed the digging-tools independently, based on the need to take animal protein in the Mt. Kahuzi region, where termite-mounds are rarely observed. Instead of seeking termites, they may have a stronger motivation to seek bee larvae, especially the larvae of stingless bees beneath the ground, than to the chimpanzees inhabiting lower or drier forests.

Key Words

Chimpanzee Montane forest Sticks for digging Stingless bees 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juichi Yamagiwa
    • 1
  • Takakazu Yumoto
    • 2
  • Mwanza Ndunda
    • 3
  • Tamaki Maruhashi
    • 4
  1. 1.Japan Money CentreJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory for Plant Ecological Studies, Faculty of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Centre de Recherches en Sciences NaturellesBukavuRepublique du Zaïre
  4. 4.Faculty of Human and Cultural SciencesMusashi UniversityNerima, TokyoJapan

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