Chimpanzees found to survive in degraded and human-dominated habitats
(Well, given that—according to the BBC—), they have entered the Stone Age … No, but seriously, wouldn’t even reasonable people expect chimps to be at least as smart as urban raccoons?
A chimpanzee population in Uganda has been found to be three times larger than previously estimated, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Ecology. The study suggests that chimpanzees may adapt to degraded habitats better than expected, but also highlights the importance of new and more focused conservation strategies.
The protected Budongo and Bugoma Forest Reserves together compose approximately one quarter of the estimated total chimpanzee population in Uganda. The unprotected area between these two reserves is a human-dominated landscape comprising forest with villages, agricultural lands and natural grasslands.
They then estimated the total population size of the area to be either 256 or 319 chimpanzees, depending on the calculation used. This suggests the presence of at least nine communities containing a minimum of eight to 33 individuals each. These figures are more than three times greater than a previous estimate of around 70 chimpanzees based on small-scale nest count surveys.
Lead author Maureen McCarthy from University of Southern California, USA, said: “Our results demonstrate a much larger population than previously estimated in this region. This is very surprising given the fragmentation of forests in this region and the high human population density. Chimpanzees, therefore, appear surprisingly resilient and can survive even in degraded habitats if they are not hunted. However, their future survival remains uncertain if protection is not afforded to them and habitat loss continues unabated.”
Then comes the real story:
The surprising levels of chimpanzee survival in a fragmented human-dominated habitat are also likely aided by their behavioral flexibility. This includes incorporating new (often human-cultivated) foods into their diets and adopting more aggressive behaviors to mitigate human threats.
In short, these African raccoons help themselves to the fruits of human labour or else they scavenge.
Curious that, on the one hand, ridiculous efforts are made to attribute human-level thought to chimps. And on the other hand, they are thought to lack self-evidently obvious survival tactics.
Wonder what agenda lies behind that?
Note: Having lived fifty years in Toronto, I would say there were probably far more raccoons in the largely forested downtown core than had ever lived there before it became a human settlement. See also: “Lazarus species”? Animals we thought were extinct
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