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Deactivation of snares by wild chimpanzees

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Snare injuries to chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have been reported at many study sites across Africa, and in some cases cause the death of the ensnared animal. However, very few snare injuries have been reported concerning the chimpanzees of Bossou, Guinea. The rarity of snare injuries in this study group warrants further consideration, given the exceptionally close proximity of the Bossou chimpanzees to human settlements and the widespread practice of snare hunting in the area. Herein we report a total of six observations of chimpanzees attempting to break and deactivate snares, successfully doing so on two of these occasions. We observed the behavior in 5 males, ranging in age from juveniles to adults. We argue that such active responses to snares must be contributing to the rarity of injuries in this group. Based on our observations, we suggest that the behavior has transmitted down the group. Our research team at Bossou continues to remove snares from the forest, but the threat of ensnarement still remains. We discuss potential ways to achieve a good balance between human subsistence activities and the conservation of chimpanzees at Bossou, which will increasingly be an area of great concern in the future.

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We are grateful to the Direction Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique, and Institut Recherche Environnementale de Bossou in Guinea for permission to carry out this research. P. Goumy, J. Dore, H.D. Camara, P. Cherif, B. Zogbira, and M. Dore provided helpful field assistance at Bossou. We thank Professor Y. Sugiyama, Dr. G. Yamakoshi, and anonymous colleagues for their support at the study site. A. MacIntosh helped to improve the manuscript. We thank an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was financed by grants of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan (nos. 12002009, 16002001, and 20002001 to T. Matsuzawa), a grant under Research Fellowships of the JSPS for Young Scientists (no. 160896 to G. Ohashi), and a grant of JSPS AA Science Platform Program to T. Furuichi.

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Correspondence to Gaku Ohashi.

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Ohashi, G., Matsuzawa, T. Deactivation of snares by wild chimpanzees. Primates 52, 1–5 (2011).

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