CONTACT USSEARCH
the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada - FOR WILDLIFE RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION

Chimpanzees

About Chimpanzees

Chimp Behaviour

 

Diet

 

Chimps are omnivores and eat not only fruits, nuts, seeds, blossoms, and leaves but many kinds of insects and occasionally, the meat of medium-sized mammals. Chimpanzees, like humans, have such diverse tastes that they are able to live in a wide variety of habitats, unlike gorillas and orang-utans which have more specialised diets in the wild.

Male chimpanzees occasionally cooperatively hunt, to kill and eat other mammals, such as bush pigs, monkeys and antelope. One of the earliest and most significant discoveries made by Jane Goodall was that chimpanzees hunt for and eat meat. Before Dr. Jane made the observation of a group of chimps eating a bushpig, chimpanzees had been assumed to be vegetarian. During her research, Jane observed the hunting process - a group of chimpanzees attacked, killed, and ate a red colobus monkey that had climbed high into a tree. The hunters covered all available escape routes while one adolescent male crept up after the prey and captured it, whereupon the other males instantly rushed up and seized parts of the carcass.

Successful hunters typically share some portion of their kill with other group members in response to a variety of begging behaviours. Most of the captured animal is eaten, including the brain. Meat is a favoured food item among chimpanzees, but makes up less than two percent of their overall diet.

An interesting observation has also been made where chimps deliberately eat medicinal plants (e.g. Aspilla leaves) and minerals to relieve stomach pains or reduce internal parasites.