Côte d’Ivoire’s chimp habitats are shrinking, but there’s hope in their numbers

Côte d’Ivoire’s chimp habitats are shrinking, but there’s hope in their numbers

Conservationists feared that chimpanzees in Comoé National Park might have been wiped out during a decade of civil conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. But camera-trap footage found a healthy population and has since documented unique behaviors not observed in other chimp populations in West Africa.

The western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) of Comoé National Park in northern Côte d’Ivoire have a unique way of drinking water during the dry season.

They chew the ends of sticks to make a sort of brush and then dip the brush end of the stick into tree cavities where water has accumulated. Then they pull the stick out and suck on the end of the brush.

This type of behavior had been observed occasionally in other chimp populations before, but researchers were surprised by how common it was among Comoé chimps.

“We found that, well, apparently they don’t use the sticks because they are more efficient, but because they prefer them,” Juan Lapuente, head of the Comoé Chimpanzee Conservation Project, told Mongabay. “It is part of the culture. That’s the way they do it.”

Lead Image: The critically endangered western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus). Image by Mario Plechaty via Adobe Stock.

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