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Keywords:

  • conservation;
  • frugivore;
  • logging;
  • Pan troglodytes;
  • subsistence resources

ABSTRACT

Commercial timber harvesting results in the loss of critical habitat for tropical forest fauna, and large-bodied frugivores (including chimpanzees and most other apes) may experience particularly detrimental effects. Few quantitative data, however, are available to evaluate the long-term impact of harvesting on chimpanzees and other apes. In particular, few data are available to compare population demographics and/or forest composition before and after timber harvesting at the same site. Utilizing detailed forestry department records of logging operations conducted in the late 1960s, present-day botanical surveys, and long-term data on the feeding ecology of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park (KNP), Uganda, I examined the impact that logging has had on KNP chimpanzee communities of known size and demography. Although some important chimpanzee food resources were harvested in high abundance during commercial logging operations, the overall impact on the most predominant dietary items (those making up roughly 75% of the chimpanzees' diet) and on presumably critical subsistence resources was limited. Furthermore, the low density of chimpanzees inhabiting the logged region of KNP is apparently not attributable to the impact of logging at the site: comparisons of resource densities at this ‘low-chimpanzee-density’ site with that of an unlogged and ‘high-chimpanzee-density’ KNP site did not differ when logging concessions at the low-chimpanzee-density site were excluded from the analysis. This study suggests that low-intensity logging can be compatible with the conservation of large-bodied frugivores, provided that dietary data are taken into account in forest management planning.