Use of a tool-set by Pan troglodytes troglodytes to obtain termites (Macrotermes) in the periphery of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, southeast Cameroon

Isra Deblauwe, Patrick Guislain, Jef Dupain, Linda Van Elsacker

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At the northern periphery of the Dja Biosphere Reserve (southeastern Cameroon) we recorded a new use of a tool-set by Pan troglodytes troglodytes to prey on Macrotermes muelleri, M. renouxi, M. lilljeborgi, and M. nobilis. We recovered 79 puncturing sticks and 47 fishing probes at 17 termite nests between 2002 and 2005. The mean length of the puncturing sticks (n = 77) and fishing probes (n = 45) was 52 cm. and 56 cm, respectively, and the mean diameter was 9 mm and 4.5 mm, respectively. Sixty-eight percent of 138 chimpanzee fecal samples contained major soldiers of four Macrotermes species. The chimpanzees in southeastern Cameroon appeared to be selective in their choice of plant material to make their tools. The tools found at our study site resemble those from other sites in this region. However, in southeastern Cameroon only one tool-set type was found, whereas two tool-set types have been reported in Congo. Our study suggests that, along with the different vegetation types and the availability of plant material around termite nests, the nest and gallery structure and foraging behavior of the different Macrotermes spp. at all Central African sites must be investigated before we can attribute differences in tool-use behavior to culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1191-1196
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2006


  • chimpanzees
  • culture
  • Macrotermes
  • southeastern Cameroon
  • tool-set

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