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The Hunting Behavior and Carnivory of Wild Chimpanzees

Abstract

The pursuit, capture, and consumption of small- and medium-sized vertebrates appear 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 vary from month to month and among 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, cooperation in hunting is more limited, and the kill is typically consumed selfishly or divided in response to harassment (begging) by others. In some cases, it may be shared tactically, trading meat with other males to strengthen alliances. The adaptive function of chimpanzee hunting is not well understood, and a variety of hypotheses have been proposed. Ideas that chimpanzees hunt to make up for nutritional shortfalls, or to acquire meat to trade for sex, have failed to find empirical support, while recent work favors nutritional benefits of some kind. Nevertheless, cross-population studies evaluating multiple hypotheses are in their infancy, and there is much to be learned. In particular, very little is known about hunting of nonprimates, particularly ungulates, or the impact that variation in levels of hunting, and of carcasses to share and consume, has on patterns of chimpanzee behavior. If one goal of studying this topic is to shed light on the behavioral ecology of hominins, then efforts to understand the diversity of hunting and carnivory in wild chimpanzees are needed.

Keywords

  • Meat Eating
  • Colobus Monkey
  • Gombe Chimpanzee
  • White Colobus
  • Swell Female

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Newton-Fisher, N.E. (2015). The Hunting Behavior and Carnivory of Wild Chimpanzees. In: Henke, W., Tattersall, I. (eds) Handbook of Paleoanthropology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-39979-4_42

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