, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 255–258 | Cite as

Use of leaves to inspect ectoparasites in wild chimpanzees: a third cultural variant?

  • Clea Assersohn
  • Andrew WhitenEmail author
  • Zephyr T. Kiwede
  • John Tinka
  • Joseph Karamagi
Original Article


We report 26 cases of using leaves as tools with which wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Sonso community, Budongo Forest, Uganda, appeared to inspect objects removed during grooming. Careful removal of potential ectoparasites and delicate lip or manual placement on leaves followed by intense visual examination characterised this behaviour. It appears to be done to judge whether either ingestion or discarding is most appropriate, the former occurring in most cases. This behaviour may represent a third variant of ectoparasite handling, different from those described at Taï and Gombe, yet sharing features with the latter. These two East African techniques may thus have evolved from leaf grooming.


Chimpanzee Culture Custom Ectoparasite Grooming 



We thank V. Reynolds for support and for access to the Sonso chimpanzee community and associated background information. K. Arnold provided additional data presented here. We also thank K. Fawcatt, E. Stokes, D. Sheppard, and P. Pebsworth for their encouragement in the field. This work was financed by a BBSRC Studentship awarded to C.A..


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clea Assersohn
    • 1
  • Andrew Whiten
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zephyr T. Kiwede
    • 2
  • John Tinka
    • 2
  • Joseph Karamagi
    • 2
  1. 1.Scottish Primate Research Group, School of PsychologyUniversity of St AndrewsFifeUK
  2. 2.Budongo Forest ProjectMasindiUganda

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