The new footage was captured by a team from the Museum of Natural History in Paris and the Uganda Wildlife Authority in which, chimps are seen carrying out “frequent and risky” crop raids in the Kibale National Park in Uganda. The researchers set up camera traps at the edge of the park in order to catch this “new” activity.
Brazen behavior of the Chimps
Roughly eight chimps took part in the raids captured on “film” on multiple occasions. The raids are unique as the chimps showed little sign of stress compared to the looking about and scratching themselves that is the norm during daylight raids. Additionally, the chimps involved included females with infants clinging to them.
Dr Catherine Hobaiter, an expert in chimp behavior, believes it just goes to show that chimps are behaving differently based on human encroachment on their natural habitats with additional farming in the area. She pointed out that humans are far more dangerous to chimps than natural predators when speaking recently with the media.
“It forces chimps to explore new food sources, like human crops,” she told BBC News.
“Raiding fields is extremely dangerous – chimps may be attacked or even killed by people defending their crops, but by raiding at night [these chimps] seem to have reduced this threat,” she added.
In order to become a chimp expert, presumably, you also have to genuinely care for your subjects of study and observation. So it’s not particularly surprising that Dr. Hobaiter sounds distressed.
Conservation is key
“Such a dramatic change suggests the chimpanzees are responding to a very strong pressure to obtain the basic foods they need to survive – a response to the widespread destruction of their natural forest home.
“While it might be working for now, this won’t be a long-term solution.
“As local people become aware of these nocturnal raids they may try to defend their fields in the dark, and the risks of conflicts escalating and injury to both chimps and people is likely to increase,” she said.
The doctor finished her interview by concluded that the remaining forests that the chimps call home must be protected.