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Keywords:

  • crop-raiding;
  • chimpanzees;
  • cultivated food availability;
  • wild food availability;
  • conflict mitigation

Abstract

Increased human population growth and more conversions of natural habitat to agricultural land have resulted in greater proximity between humans and nonhuman primate species. Consequent increases in resource competition including crop-raiding are a by-product of both natural resources becoming less available and the nutritional benefits of cultivated foods becoming more known to the nonhuman primates. Chimpanzees at Bossou in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa, consume 17 different types of cultivated foods that are grown extensively throughout their small, fragmented home range. Direct observations of feeding behavior conducted over an 18-month period revealed that during specific months crops account for up to one quarter of chimpanzee feeding time, with higher overall crop-raiding levels throughout the periods of wild fruit scarcity. Some cultivated foods, especially sugar fruits, are mostly fallback foods, whereas others, such as rice pith (Oryza sp.) and maize (Zea mays), are consumed according to their availability even when wild foods are abundant. These findings highlight the importance of both crop choice by farmers and a thorough understanding of the ecology of resident primate species when establishing land management techniques for alleviating human–primate conflict. Am. J. Primatol. 71:636–646, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.