ResearchIris Berger

Chimpanzee Diet & Tool-use

ResearchIris Berger
Chimpanzee Diet & Tool-use

I spent summer 2017 studying chimpanzee diet and tool-use in Uganda. My research was part-funded by a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant. My time was split between two forests: the first, Budongo Forest, is home to a world-renowned research station where the resident chimp group has been habituated (I regularly saw chimps from my bedroom window). The second, Bugoma Forest, is subject to intense illegal logging, and the resident chimps were routinely injured by snares, distrustful of humans, and almost completely unresearched.

IMG_2661.jpg
IMG_4472.jpg

The chimpanzees of Budongo Forest are unique because they have not been recorded performing extractive tool-use behaviour (they don’t appear to use sticks to "fish" for termites or ants). The leading hypothesis is that there is unusually plentiful fruit in the forest, meaning that there is no need for the local chimps to engage in complex high-energy foraging behaviour. It was not known whether the chimps in the nearby Bugoma Forest performed extractive tool-use behaviour. I therefore compared food availability and diet between the chimpanzee communities of the two forests to assess the likelihood that the Bugoma chimps are using tools.

IMG_3109.jpg
klauce.bone.jpg
IMG_2866.jpg
IMG_2964.jpg