Discovering Ape Culture
Chimpanzees in the Goualougo have been observed to strike a hive with a pounding club just over 1,000 times to obtain honey.
These complex tool traditions are in decline and GTAP scientists are working towards combating the loss of chimpanzee cultures.
Over the last twenty years, new insights into chimpanzee tool-using repertoires and social facilitation of tool tasks in the Goualougo Triangle continue to change our perception of cognition and teaching in wild apes. The high-tech repertoire of Goualougo chimpanzees includes 22 different tool types in a variety of contexts including the use of tool-sets. Tools are called upon by Goualougo chimpanzees during social interactions, self-grooming, and protection from the elements but most often during foraging.
Tool technologies to prey upon termites in Goualougo differ from chimpanzee populations in East and West Africa. In Goualougo, underground termite nests are accessed by chimpanzees using multiple tools used in sequence and composed of particular plants modified to improve their efficiency in “fishing” for termites.
Tool transfers between mothers and their offspring function as a form of teaching in Goualougo. Subsequent findings in Goualougo indicate active helping via tool transfers may enhance cultural transmission of complex technology in wild apes. These complex tool traditions are in decline and GTAP scientists are working towards combating the loss of chimpanzee cultures.