February 20, 2012

Chimp Haven Expanded

congo_chimp_lr.jpgNaïve but clever chimps allocated more rainforest in Congo

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park rainforest area in the Republic of Congo has been formally expanded in an attempt to protect not just the trees but also its endemic population of naïve chimpanzees.  Known as the Goualougo Triangle, the 100-plus square-mile dense swamp forest and its unique great ape population was first reported in 1989 by Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists.  The area protected has increased from 1,492 square miles (386,592 hectares) to 1,636 square miles (423,870 hectares), an increase of more than 8 percent.


These so-called “naïve” chimpanzees, have experienced such little exposure to humans that they tend to investigate the conservationists who study them, instead of running away like most wild creatures.  This very trait makes them even more vulnerable to being illegally hunted and there are growing concerns about poaching pressure in surrounding areas. 

“Naïve” chimps, which are of course apes, are also great innovators;  unusually, they use two different types of tools for collecting termites from insect nests – short sticks to break the nest open and long “probes” to get the tasty insects out.  Evidently, this tool specialization discovery was the first of its kind in wild chimpanzee populations.  Gorillas and even forest elephants share these rainforests, in places dense and swampy. 

Source:  Science Daily and Wildlife Conservation Society

(Photo Credit: © Kitch Bain / Fotolia)


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