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Keywords:

  • tool use;
  • chimpanzee;
  • termites;
  • ecology;
  • feeding;
  • primates;
  • Pan troglodytes;
  • Macrotermes herus

Abstract

Wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) used probes made of vegetation to fish for termites (Macrotermes herus) in the Mahale Mountains of western Tanzania. Data on both the artefacts and behavior associated with their use were recorded over a 5-month period. The chimpanzees of one unit group, B Group, were seen four times to use the tools to extract the insects from their mounds. A sample of 290 tools was collected and analyzed in terms of age, seasonality, length, width, class of raw materials, species, methods of making, extent of use, and damage incurred through use. There were differences across groups in tool use in feeding on termites; some could be related to biotic factors, but others appeared to be cultural differences.