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New Mahale Chimpanzee Blog Reveals Fascinating Behavior

Thursday, 11 December 2008 11:47 by BillGiven

One of my ultimate experiences has been trekking with chimpanzees in Mahale National Park, Tanzania. I led a group there to visit the 'M' Group of approximately 60 chimpanzees and we stayed at the one of a kind Greystoke Camp perched on a beautiful white sand beach on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. You quickly learn how to recognize some of the individual chimps and their interesting personality traits. Just recently Greystoke has begun producing a blog that is frequently updated with reports direct from the field by their outstanding guides. I am excited by this as I can now keep up with what is happening in the M Group and know what the latest is with some of the chimps that really impacted me. The latest blog entry I found partcularly fascinating as it detailed an interaction between chimps and a warthog. The guide reports that after the warthog went in its burrow two of the male chimps stood behind the burrow and smacked the ground with their hands until eventually the warthog came rocketing out and ran away.

Chimpanzee Looking at his Hand

Mahale Chimpanzee Orion inspects his hand

Reading this account I was immediately struck by how similar this sounded to how the Kalahari bushmen hunt warthogs. They have described to me their methods and they also stand behind the burrow, this way if the warthog charges out it does not collide with you. Then they tap a stick over and over the same way the chimps were slapping their hands. The bushmen say the warthog cannot ignore the tapping and eventually it will either come up for a look or go running out and the bushman is poised with his club when the warthog makes a move.

Bushmen Hunting for Warthog

Bushman brandishes a club

This could simply be a coincidence but with the number of links in physiology and behavior between humans and chimpanzees such events make you think about our evolution and how some of our survival skills developed.