Nigerian Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes vellerosus) at Gashaka: Two Years of Habituation EffortsSommer V.a · Adanu J.b · Faucher I.a · Fowler A.a
aDepartment of Anthropology, University College London, London, UK; bDepartment of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Federal University ofTechnology, Yola, Nigeria
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Cross-population comparisons of chimpanzees can shed light on the pathways of hominid evolution. So far, no eco-ethological data exist for the recently recognized subspecies Pan troglodytes vellerosus. We report on the first 2 years of a new long-term study from what is perhaps their last remaining stronghold: the Gashaka Gumti National Park, Nigeria. The mosaic habitat (woodland, lowland and gallery forest) receives 1,826 mm rain/year, with 4–5 months being completely dry. Primates at Gashaka are not hunted, and the chimpanzees are therefore relatively tolerant of human observers. We focused on the Gashaka-Kwano community, investing 3,000 h of patrols. A total of 95 sightings were achieved which lasted for an average of 27 min (range 1–190 min). Party size averaged 3.7 animals (range 1–17) but was, similarly to encounter length, susceptible to a wide range of methodological, social and ecological factors. The Kwano community comprises at least 35 members which occupy a home range of at least 26 km2, yielding a density of 1.3/km2. The area represents the West African equivalent of a chimpanzee site similar to the forest-woodland habitat in which early humans might have evolved.
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