Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chimps Caught in First Known Nighttime Crop Raids

Chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Park are supplementing their diet with maize from a plantation within the park’s borders. While crop raids are a well-known problem throughout the chimps’ range, these animals were filmed venturing into the fields in the dark of night—a first for chimpanzees.

Wildlife is often a problem for people living on the edges of parks and preserves. One study found that crop raids by chimpanzees and monkeys in Rwanda caused losses equivalent to 10 to 20 percent of a farmer’s income. Chimps have been recorded eating parts of 36 different crop species, from bananas and papayas to lemons and coffee. It seems little is off the menu for a hungry chimpanzee.

A crop raid, though, can be a dangerous activity for a chimp. While the animals can be scared off by throwing stones or banging pots, some people have resorted to harsher measures, killing chimps to deter potential thieves. With chimpanzees already dwindling in numbers because of habitat loss, poaching and disease, the endangered animals hardly need another source of human conflict.

Full story here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vaccinate gorillas against Ebola, Gorilla Doctors recommend

Veterinarians who care for wild gorillas want government permission to give the endangered animals an experimental Ebola vaccine in case of a nearby viral outbreak.

Mike Cranfield, the Canadian co-director of the non-profit group Gorilla Doctors, says its member are "very, very concerned" about the risk to gorillas of Ebola.

The human outbreak centred in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday.

But previous outbreaks have killed tens of thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees — a 2002 outbreak at Lossie Sanctuary in northwest Congo alone killed 5,000 gorillas, or 93 per cent of the population at the sanctuary, at the time, a 2006 study reported.

"It's so devastating," said Cranfield. "Where people had gone in before and there was high numbers of great apes ... now they go in and it's completely silent. They can't find any."

Full story here.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Dramatic Gorilla Fight Over A Tomato Caught On Film

It's a scene normally reserved for wildlife documentaries and blockbuster films.

But three adult male gorillas were captured in an astonishing display of animal instinct - as they fought over breakfast at a Devon zoo.

Kicking and hitting one another with their fangs in full view, the mammals stood upright as they carried out their hungry scuffle to the amazement of visitors.

The stand-off was captured by a visiting schoolboy and wildlife enthusiast after keepers tossed vegetables into the animals' enclosure at Paignton Zoo.

Full story here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Chimps with tools: Wild ape culture caught on camera

Researchers have captured the spread of a new type of tool use in a wild population of chimps.

They say this is the first clear evidence of wild chimpanzees developing a new culture.

As the team filmed the animals at a field station in Uganda, they noticed that some of them started to make a new type of leaf sponge - something the animals use to drink.

This new behaviour soon spread throughout the group.
Chimp using a leaf sponge (c) Catherine Hobaiter Leaf sponges allow wild chimps to drink from watering holes

The findings are published in the journal Plos Biology.

Lead researcher Dr Catherine Hobaiter, from the University of St Andrews, explained that chimps make and use folded up "little sponges that they dip into ponds and then suck the water out".

"We were insanely lucky," she told BBC News. "We saw two new versions of this tool use emerge in the chimps [we were watching]."

Full story here.