Chimpanzee hunting behaviour: patterns and comparisons in social carnivory

This source preferred by Amanda Korstjens

Authors: Brett, J.R. and Korstjens, A.H.

Start date: 11 December 2013

Mammalian tissue (meat) is a high quality resource and is a source of both important macro and micronutrients in many species diets. A number of species hunt in groups to increase benefits and reduce costs of hunting behaviour, usually by improving their access to meat and reducing the individual’s energetic cost and risk of injury or failure to capture. This study aimed to assess whether patterns in chimpanzee hunting behaviour complied with patterns in mammalian social carnivore hunting. Comparisons were made between chimpanzees Pan troglodytes and wolves Canis lupus, African lions Panthera leo, spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta and orca Orcinus orca. Chimpanzee hunting behaviour varies between populations yet there is consistency in: the preference for Procolobus spp. as prey, high success rates, and the propensity of male dominated hunting groups. As such similarities and differences in prey selectivity, prey size, hunting success and hunting party demography between species were investigated. It was found that chimpanzee hunting behaviour has a number of key differences compared to social carnivores, these were lower prey diversity, smaller body weight to prey size ratio, higher rates of hunting success and a more restricted hunting party demography. A possible explanation for these findings is that the omnivorous/ frugivorous chimpanzees are facultative carnivores unlike the obligate carnivores they have been compared with here. Subsequently they are less likely to take risks to obtain meat and are choosier about the prey species targeted due to a lack of reliance on this food source.

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