Research by PhD candidate Nicola Bryson-Morrison from the University of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) suggests chimpanzees are aware of the risks of foraging too close to humans.
The findings could play a vital role in helping further understand how human activities and development affect chimpanzee behaviour and habitat use.
Nicola and her team conducted the research in Bossou, Guinea, West Africa between April 2012 and March 2013.
They carried out six-hour morning and afternoon follows of the crop-foraging chimpanzees over a full year to record their various behaviours in different habitat types across the landscape.
They found that the chimpanzees preferred mature primary forest for all behaviours and avoided foraging in non-cultivated habitats within 200m from cultivated fields, suggesting an awareness of the associated risks of being too close to locations where humans were likely to be present.
However, the chimpanzees did not avoid foraging close to unsurfaced roads or paths where vehicles or humans may be present.
The risks related to roads and paths may be less than cultivated fields where humans are more likely to behave antagonistically towards chimpanzees.
The findings have been published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Primatology.
Nicola is studying at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) research centre within SAC, under the supervision of Dr. Tatyana Humle.
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