Variation in hunting behaviour in neighbouring chimpanzee communities in the Budongo forest, Uganda

Catherine Hobaiter, Liran Samuni, Caroline Mullins, Walter John Akankwasa, Klaus Zuberbühler

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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Hunting and sharing of meat is seen across all chimpanzee sites, with variation in prey preferences, hunting techniques, frequencies, and success rates. Here, we compared hunting and meat-eating behaviour in two adjacent chimpanzee communities (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of Budongo Forest, Uganda: the Waibira and Sonso communities. We observed consistent between-group differences in prey-species preferences and in post-hunting behaviour. Sonso chimpanzees show a strong prey preference for Guereza colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza occidentalis; 74.9% hunts), and hunt regularly (1–2 times a month) but with large year-to-year and month-to-month variation. Waibira chimpanzee prey preferences are distributed across primate and duiker species, and resemble those described in an early study of Sonso hunting. Waibira chimpanzees (which include ex-Sonso immigrants) have been observed to feed on red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis; 25%, 9/36 hunts), a species Sonso has never been recorded to feed on (18 years data, 27 years observations), despite no apparent differences in prey distribution; and show less rank-related harassment of meat possessors. We discuss the two most likely and probably interrelated explanations for the observed intergroup variation in chimpanzee hunting behaviour, that is, long-term disruption of complex group-level behaviour due to human presence and possible socially transmitted differences in prey preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0178065
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2017


  • Pan troglodytes
  • Meat sharing
  • Monopolization
  • Hunting
  • Food preference
  • Social learning
  • Tradition
  • Animal culture
  • Conformity
  • Habituation


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