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Title: Chimpanzee ecology and interactions with people in an unprotected human-dominated landscape at Bulindi, Western Uganda
Author: McLennan, Matthew Ross
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 738X
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2010
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As humans continue to modify natural habitats in Africa, particularly outside of protected areas, the survival of many chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations is dependant on their ability to adapt to human-dominated landscapes, and the willingness of local people to share their environment and resources with these large mammals. Unless hunted, chimpanzees may persist in anthropogenically-modified habitats including forest–farm mosaics, but competition and conflict can characterise their relationship with people. Conservation strategies are needed to facilitate successful coexistence. However, few studies have examined human–ape sympatry in detail. This thesis explores the ecological and behavioural adaptation of a previously unstudied chimpanzee community to an increasingly ‘agriculturalised’ landscape at Bulindi, Uganda. These chimpanzees live in exceptionally close proximity to farmers that exert unsustainable pressure on small unprotected forests. Research was conducted during 21 months between February 2006 and January 2008. Quantitative ecological methods were used to characterise the apes’ habitat and measure seasonal food availability. Indirect methods (e.g. faecal analysis and nest mapping) were employed to investigate chimpanzee diet and range use, supplemented by opportunistic behavioural observations. Riverine forests at Bulindi are rich in chimpanzee foods, but are rapidly being destroyed by people. Important foods in the apes’ diet include both wild and cultivated items; chimpanzees increased consumption of cultivars during the low forest fruiting season. Unique among studied populations in Uganda, Bulindi chimpanzees use tools to dig up subterranean bee nests for honey. Interviews were conducted to survey residents’ attitudes towards chimpanzees and forests. Chimpanzee behaviour is widely perceived by residents to have undergone recent negative changes, including increased crop-raiding and ranging into village areas, which correspond to major land-use changes (i.e. commercial logging and agricultural intensification). Further, adult males exhibit frequent human-directed aggression, apparently in response to harassment and intensifying competition with humans. Most residents fear chimpanzees. Because of poverty, insecure land tenure, inadequate law and policy enforcement, and corruption, local people currently have little incentive to maintain forest on their land. The study concludes that, under present conditions, chimpanzees will not survive at Bulindi or in similar unprotected forest–farm landscapes regionally without immediate, effective intervention. Recommendations for the conservation and management of chimpanzees in human-dominated landscapes are provided.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available