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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999 Aug;109(4):439-54.

Demographic influences on the hunting behavior of chimpanzees.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


We investigated hunting in an unusually large community of wild chimpanzees at Ngogo in the Kibale National Park, Uganda. Aspects of predation were recorded with respect to the prey, the predators, and hunting episodes. During 23 months of observation, the Ngogo chimpanzees caught 128 prey items from four primate and three ungulate species. Chimpanzees preyed selectively on immature red colobus primarily during group hunts, with adult males making the majority of kills. Party size and composition were significant predictors of the probability that chimpanzees would hunt and of their success during attempts. Chimpanzees were more likely to hunt red colobus if party size and the number of male hunters were large; party size and the number of male hunters were also significantly larger in successful compared with unsuccessful hunts. The Ngogo chimpanzees did not appear to hunt cooperatively, but reciprocal meat-sharing typically took place after kills. Hunts occurred throughout the year, though there was some seasonality as displayed by periodic hunting binges. The extremely high success rate and large number of kills made per successful hunt are the two most striking aspects of predation by the Ngogo chimpanzees. We compare currently available observations of chimpanzee hunting behavior across study sites and conclude that the large size of the Ngogo community contributes to their extraordinary hunting success. Demographic differences between groups are likely to contribute to other patterns of interpopulation variation in chimpanzee predation.

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