Though chimps are strictly daytime animals and avoid any activity during the night because their historic main predators, leopards, hunt at night, chimps in a national park in Uganda have been filmed raiding farmers’ fields inside the park’s borders.

Camera traps have caught wild chimpanzees in the act as they carried out night-time raids on farmland. The footage, captured by researchers from the Museum of Natural History in Paris and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, shows the chimps adapting to human pressure on their habitat.

The team says this is the first record of “frequent and risky” nocturnal raids to find food.

It is published in the journal Plos One.

The researchers carried out their study in Kibale National Park in Uganda, setting up their camera traps on the edge of the park.

“[It’s] surrounded on the outside by smallholder farms, forest fragments and tea estates,” the researchers said in their paper.

They think that humans encroaching on chimp habitats may have “promoted” the animals’ foraging trips into cropland. But the scientists were still surprised by how daring the chimps’ raids were.

Groups of about eight chimpanzees took part in each raid; these groups included vulnerable animals, such as females with clinging infants.

They would raid during the day as well, but during night-time raids the chimps stayed longer in the maize fields. They also showed fewer signs of vigilance and anxiety, such as looking around or scratching themselves roughly – a recognized signal of stress.

 

Dr Catherine Hobaiter, an expert in chimp behavior from the University of St Andrews, said the observations were fascinating. Habitat loss, she explained, was a much greater threat for the chimpanzees than natural predators.

“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.”

Despite how adaptable the chimps have shown themselves to be, Dr Hobaiter says the behavior is also worrying.

“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.

“From a conservation perspective, the only long-term solution is the protection of the remaining forests.”

 

18 Responses

  1. Mishawaka, Indiana; Saturday; October 25, 2014 | Mishawaka Current

    […] Chimps filmed raiding farms for food during night […]

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    […] Chimps filmed raiding farms for food during night […]

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  3. vishnubrakmamaheswar

    Greed and lack of collaboration among west and the rest is the root cause of all evil in this world.
    Colonial terrorism was bad , that broke the sustainable life styles native peoples were having, now GREEDy corporations going and logging and sucking up resources of native lands disregarding the natives life styles and humanity is bad.
    Every human is biased , only some intelligent compassionate humans can educate the decision makers who “own” this world.
    Future of this ecosystem is in the hands of the westerners , they have made themselves in charge , they are too lazy and very greedy .
    They can decouple from the rest . Let life evolve ,shed the ownership attitude, they have never been responsible.
    I dare say even the Pope doesn’t care ,it is all GREED .

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    […] Chimps filmed raiding farms for food during night […]

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    […] Chimps filmed raiding farms for food during night […]

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  7. Mishawaka, Indiana; Friday; October 24, 2014 | Mishawaka Current

    […] Chimps filmed raiding farms for food during night […]

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  8. Joe Pelletier

    Animals are animals. They are not “raiding” farms, as they have no concept of ownership. They go after food where they find it and when they are hungry. They do not have any concept of morality or who owns property.

    Reply
    • SomeGuy

      Actually, while they probably are fuzzy on the finer points of property law, chimps do have a concept of “ownership” over land areas. Chimp troops will often claim areas of land and select those areas based on the resources available. They also will do things like claim enemy troop territory and even go to war for more rich land. We are animals, and troops of humans certainly have “raided” farms in the past, especially since to raid something just means you went to a place and stole things. You wouldn’t have to understand morality or property rights to steal, you’d just have to pick something up that isn’t yours and walk off. Understanding it is another matter.

      Reply
      • Joe Pelletier

        Humans are not animals. Humans are created in the image of God, animals are not. Comparing chimpanzees to humans is not an honest or accurate comparison.

      • SomeGuy

        That’s just silly. “Animal – a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli.” You can believe as you want, but to say we are not animals (and more specifically primates) is what is dishonest. In fact, it is blatently disregarding the truth. It is well known that by definition humans ARE animals. This means that you are being dishonest to assert otherwise in the face of overwhelming evidence. I am pretty sure there is a book you like that says you should not tell lies. I suggest you revise your statement in light of this new definition (above) lest you incur the wrath of your almighty due to such an easily disproven lie.

  9. Lowefactor

    Here’s an alternative opinion. The research portrays that human encroachment is shrinking the monkeys natural food source area causing them to resort to raiding farms at night and taking on more risk. Have the researchers considered that monkeys are smart enough to realize that the farms are easy, plentiful targets? Perhaps the monkeys are weighing the cost of their risk and effort to find food during the day simply against the cost of walking across the street at night in a bad neighborhood to get plentiful and free good food? Like entitlements, the animal simply weighs the costs versus benefits and mother nature decides it’s easier and safer in the long run to do it that way. I agree that human encroachment effects the natural habitat and animal behavior, but in this case, it seems more like a symbiotic (but different) helpful relationship. I suggest they continue the study to see if the local monkey population rises in time – a sign that the benefits were greater than the predator risks and that mother nature experimented and found a better path forward.

    Reply
    • SomeGuy

      That does make sense in many ways, as hopping onto some neighbor troop’s land to grab an easy bite is normal chimp behavior.The big point here is that before humans were encroaching on their land, good food was often readily available. In fact, chimps would find areas with lots of food (huge nut trees for instance) and kind of just claim it and move in the whole troop. They do this type of raid (though normally during the day) on land they know other chimps have claimed and where/when they may encounter danger.

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  10. Mike Elliott

    Chimps have a thinking brain. What more can we expect? Just like humans, some work the nightshift.

    Reply
  11. Ivan G

    There should be laws in place to protect chimps against discrimination. At least 10% of Seante and each company should be given to chimps. Female Chimp for next president!!!

    Reply

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