Diet of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Mt. Assirik, Senegal: I. Composition



The composition of the diet of a savanna-living population of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Mt. Assirik in Senegal is presented. The study site had a prolonged dry season, high temperatures, and vegetation dominated by grasses. Data came from direct observation, fecal specimens, and feeding traces; thus, strict criteria for acceptance of the indirect data were specified. Composition of diet was given in terms of species and family of prey, parts eaten, life-form, type of habitat, and criteria for inclusion. Forty-three species of plants with 60 parts were eaten; mostly fruits, from trees, in woodland. Nine species of animal prey were eaten, mostly social insects. An additional 41 species of plants with 53 parts were classed as likely to be eaten by chimpanzees, mostly on the grounds of their being eaten by sympatric anthropoids. Overall, the diet of the apes at Mt. Assirik resembles that of this species elsewhere in Africa, but the size of the dietary repertoire seems small and the proportion of low-quality foodstuffs high. The latter are mostly time-consuming to collect or tedious to obtain or process, and include underground storage organs.