Monday, November 28, 2011

New article on food and tool "sharing" in Fongoli chimps

Our new publication is now available online at the journal Primates. Iowa State University Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Anthropology, home department), Stacy Lindshield, and I published an article on 'Plant Food and Tool Transfer in Savanna Chimpanzees'. There is a link to the paper from the news article that Iowa State University put out, below.

We note that the frequency of non-meat transfer appears high at Fongoli relative to the sharing of wild plants and other foods and tools by chimpanzees elsewhere, and we talk about why that may be. (We'll eventually examine meat-sharing as well, in a separate paper). We also point out that we think this is a tendency for West African chimps to fall closer to bonobos in terms of this and other behaviors along a continuum that includes all Pan species and subspecies.

In large part, adult males allowed adult females to take resources from them. Adult male Karamoko, pictured in the photos above (Courtesy National Geographic) was one of the adult males that shared termite-fishing tools with females.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Neighbor Ape Dormitory Project Update, Faleme Chimpanzee Conservation and Other News

Received some good news on Thanksgiving from Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project Manager and Director of Conservation, Dondo Kante (pictured above with wife, Nene, and daughter, Nadege).

The Neighbor Ape/OBRAR project that entails construction of a dormitory so village children can attend school in the regional capitol of Kedougou is moving along, and the mayor of Kedougou DONATED 2 plots of land to match the 2 purchased with the generous gift of Neighbor Ape donors Jewel Slesnick and Harold Marder (see previous posts).

Dondo has been filming stages of construction, and I will post these when I arrive in Senegal in late December.

In chimpanzee news, Iowa State University graduate Anna Olson, who is assisting ISU PhD student Stacy Lindshield with her dissertation research, informed me that the Fongoli chimps have moved back closer to Fongoli village, where they can be heard at night. Can't wait to hear that again!

Finally, ISU PhD student Kelly Boyer just had her own Faleme Chimpanzee Conservation project branded by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Congratulations Kelly! Here is a link to her project:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

School Supplies for Djendji Village School and Announcing Luna!

The crew in Senegal recently presented the village of Djendji a year's supply of school equipment. In this photo, Josh (see below) is pictured with the chief of Djendji and the boxes of school supplies. In the photo above, some of the men at Djendji prepare their drums for the dance after the presentation (top photo).

In chimp news, Lucille's newest infant, a daughter, has been given the name "Luna" by one of the graduate students working at Fongoli this year. Josh Marshack, of Washington University-St. Louis, did the honor. Josh is studying aggression and affiliation in the Fongoli chimpanzees. Luna is the fourth offspring and second daughter (that we know of) of adult female Lucille. Luthor, Lex and Sounkaro are Luna's siblings.

And, finally, the OBRAR project is progressing. The first stage is buying the land in Kedougou and building the dormitories for the children living in and around Thiobo village. Videos will be posted on the progress here in the future.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Baby and New Neighbor Ape Project!

Some very exciting news Senegal is that Lucille had an infant in late August, and researchers were finally able to confirm that it is a girl!! Congrats Lucille - one of the most energetic moms (considering her interbirth intervals are relatively short at less than 4 years!). Name for new daughter coming soon. This is Lucille's fourth infant, behind Luthor, Lex and Sounkaro. (Photo above - courtesy of the National Geographic Society - is of Lucille & Sounkaro several years ago, relaxing in Sakoto pool).

Other very exciting news is that our non-profit organization, Neighbor Ape, has been able to move forward with our plans to construct a dormitory for village children from southeastern Senegal. This would enable these children to live in Kedougou and attend school there. Two very generous donors made this project possible - thank you Harold Marder and Jewel Slesnick! Updates on this project soon - including some video of the progress!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New faces, new names...lots of hunting!

An update on some of the happenings around Fongoli includes a little bit about some of the new faces, along with their new names (that we use anyway!) and, finally, an update on galago hunting!

Natasha's infant son is now about 3 months old, and he is quite active. He has been given a name courtesy of a generous donor, Carolyn Farris, to the Leakey Foundation, which auctioned off the name of Natasha's infant to raise funds for that organization (they have also kindly funded the research at Fongoli!). They also recently posted a blog entry that I wrote about an exciting day at Fongoli.

Ms. Farris noted, "I would like to name Natasha’s baby “Pistache” (French for pistachio nut), after my long hair Chihuahua. I adopted her from the Helen Woodward Animal Center and she was named after a character in a book. The chain of events that led to her adoption started on Bastille Day, so I thought a French name would be appropriate for her. The name is pronounced Pee-stash. My little dog is popular with everyone she meets, as she is loving, cuddly and playful. She is also tall for a Chihuahua, just as Natasha and her son are tall."

Pistache the Fongoli chimp is indeed tall for his age - and quite precocious! Natasha is careful to keep others away from him at his young age, but infant Aimee sometimes can sneak in and touch him. The other new group member, adolescent female immigrant Lily is often close by as well and sometimes seems to "accidentally" groom Pistache for a second before resuming to groom Natasha. Lily has been a member of the Fongoli community for several months now and has integrated well. She is quite outgoing, tends to challenge the resident females, likes to spend time with the alpha male (who doesn't?!), and still plays extensively with the youngsters. Hopefully, pictures of Pistache and Lily will be posted here soon (I've had technical difficulties this summer!).

Finally, we have already racked up 45 tool-assisted "spearing" hunting bouts this year! This ties our record, which was set last year. Although hunting peaks in the early rainy season, chances are a few more observations will trickle in, and we'll set a new record this year! Young female Fanta is currently the most prolific hunter, although adult female Tumbo (seen above in photo with infant Cy, courtesy National Geographic Society) still holds the record for the highest success rate. Well done Fongoli chimps!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

10 years of the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project

This past week we had a party to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project. Thanks to everyone (and there are many!) who helped along the way!

People from the villages of Fongoli, Djendji, Petit Oubadji, Tenkoto, Seekoto, Ngari, Bantako and probably a few others came, as well as some folks from Kedougou and beyond! There was much dancing (traditional, as in the video I've posted a link to here, as well as more of the modern style once the DJ got started!) and feasting!

Chimps were given a day to party on their own too - without ANY observers! They were nice enough to let me find them quickly the next day and, to my surprise, Bo was back after being gone for about two and a half weeks. That made the community complete - 31 together - except for a couple of peripheral males we see once or twice a year...

Also, the day before our 10th anniversary fete, I saw, heard or found evidence for TEN different hunts. I saw 7 cases of tool-assisted galago hunting, another case where I heard the hunt and saw the adolescent female leaving and found the tool, a case where an adult female examined a hunting tool that had recently been made and, finally, I witnessed a vervet monkey hunt (with Lily, the newly transferred subadult female in the lead)! I'm sad to say no one I observed got lucky (except for the prey!).

Here is a link to the fantastic Bassari dancers from the village of Petit Oubadji who danced most of the day for us at the anniversary party:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fongoli update!

The first rains at Fongoli brought out a couple of tool-assisted "spearing" hunting bouts! The first of the season - by adult female Tumbo and juvenile female Fanta (although the latter was only seen making a tool, which was then retrieved, so we can't add a score to Fanta's tally!). No success but exciting nonetheless!

Fongoli chimps seem to be doing well. Natasha had an infant last month - probably a male although we still need to double check on that when we can get a good look. She is quite protective still and holds the baby very close. Farafa's female infant, Vivienne, who was born in October of 2010, is spending time away from Mom - not too far yet, though. The chimps were in a group of 28 yesterday, which includes everyone except Nickel, Teva and Dawson, who have been seen fairly recently though.

A small gold mine has erupted within the Fongoli chimps' home range, but it may subside as did one that appeared several years ago. These are mines dug by local people, which consist of a series of small but deep holes. They are much less problematic for chimps compared to the large-scale, corporate mines that will be increasing in southeastern Senegal...

Still hot here - usually over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Both humans and chimps looking forward to the rains really starting!

Photo of Tumbo and her infant Cy, who apparently loves to ride "jockey style" by Dr. Maja Gaspersic, May 2011.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Neighbor Ape officially 501(c)3 Non-Profit

Great news that Neighbor Ape has been given official non-profit [501(c)3] status by the IRS! Although we've been incorporated since 2008, I just received the good news on the non-profit status yesterday! This means that anyone who donates to Neighbor Ape is making a TAX DEDUCTIBLE contribution, and this status is retroactive to the date on which we were incorporated in 2008. Soon, I'll provide more information on how you can easily donate to our organization. For now, I'll probably arrange something via the National Geographic Action Atlas website:

This year, we continue to focus on education but also hope to start our eco-ranger program.

Photo above of Tia and Aimee (who is doing very well more than two years after her "chimp-napping" from the Fongoli community but with successful return)courtesy of Kelly Boyer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Termites, termites, termites!

Check out the article available online at the American Journal of Physical Anthropology on Dr. Stephanie Bogart's dissertation work at Fongoli. Male Fongoli chimps appear to spend more time termite-fishing than chimps at any other site (we don't yet have data on females' time spent fishing).

All termites, all of the time!
(Photo above of Frito termite-fishing at Fongoli, Senegal, courtesy of National Geographic Society).