A Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee that came face to face with a trail camera in the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Lebialem Division turned violent and started throwing stones at the gadget.
Footage caught on the camera shows the chimpanzee first wondering at the sight of the strange object attached to a tree branch in the heart of the jungle. Gripped by curiosity, the chimp then moves towards the camera, stares into the lens and touches the tree stem possibly to see if the camera would move.
Apparently disappointed by the stillness of the camera, the chimp picks a rock and hurls it at the camera. More disappointment, the chimpanzee moves away.
Throwing rocks and other objects is habitual practice amongst great apes usually to restore order in their groups, scare away enemies. Other signs used by apes for communication include the famous chest beating ritual and loud vocalisation.
In the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, it has been observed that chimpanzees use stones to crack open hard shells. They also use twigs to ‘fish’ out for termites.
It has been documented that tool use is an important behaviour of chimpanzees, which is passed from one generation to the next through observational learning and has become an example of chimpanzee culture.
Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary currently hosts about 90 Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, 40 Cross River gorillas and unknown number of other mammals and great apes.
ERuDeF in collaboration with its international partners, notably the French conservation charity Man & Nature, Tusk Trust USA and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and collaboration from adjacent communities has for the past sixteen years been working on conserving these great apes, all of which are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list.
By Enokenwa Allen Tabi