14 Chimpanzee Hunting Behavior

  • Nicholas E. Newton-Fisher
Reference work entry


The pursuit, capture and consumption of small- and medium-sized vertebrates, appears to be typical of all chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations, although large variation exists. Red colobus monkeys (Piliocolobus sp.) appear to be the preferred prey but intensity and frequency of hunting varies from month to month and between populations. Hunting is a predominately male activity and is typically opportunistic, although there is some evidence of searching for prey. The degree of cooperation during hunting, as well as prey selection, varies between East and West African populations and may be related to the way the kill is divided: in West Africa, hunters often collaborate, with kills tending to be shared according to participation, whereas in East Africa, the kill is typically divided tactically by the male in possession of the carcass, trading meat with females in return for sex or with other males to strengthen alliances, and cooperation in hunting is more limited. The adaptive function of chimpanzee hunting is not well understood, although it appears that it may be both a means to acquire a nutritionally valuable commodity that can then be traded and as a means for males to display their prowess and reliability to one another.


Hunting Season Colobus Monkey Chimpanzee Population African Chimpanzee Blue Duiker 
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  • Nicholas E. Newton-Fisher

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