This remarkable video was shot as part of a 29-month study of chimps crossing what’s often a dangerously busy road in Uganda’s Kibale National Park. Unlike in studies conducted of quieter roads, here the apes cautiously looked both ways, moved rapidly, and made sure all in the group made it across safely.
New Scientist reports:
Ninety-two per cent of them looked right, left, or both ways before or during crossing, and 57 per cent ran across – showing that they knew the value of reaching the other side as quickly as possible.
Alpha males led and organised 83 per cent of the road-crossing posses, compared with only 51 per cent of tree-climbing expeditions in the forest studied in parallel. This implies that they recognised the importance of extra vigilance during road crossings.
There was also evidence that healthy and dominant chimps often made sure that stragglers or more vulnerable members of the group crossed safely. Some 86 per cent of the healthy chimps looked back or stopped when at least one vulnerable individual, such as an infant or injured chimp, trailed behind.
Researchers hope the findings will encourage Uganda to adapt new safety measures, including speed-reduction strategies, to protect chimps and other wildlife as new roads are built. Read the complete scientific report in the American Journal of Primatology here.
[Via Laughing Squid]