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Camera traps capture fascinating footage of apes in their natural habitat

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Aping around! Camera traps capture fascinating footage of apes in their natural habitat deep in the African jungle - and they even try to EAT the kit that's filming them

  • The team planted camera traps in the African jungle to see how the apes react
  • After analysing the footage they found how different species reacted to them
  • They observed chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas and found responses differed
  • Younger apes would explore the traps by staring at them for longer periods

By Victoria Bell For Mailonline

Published: 11:05 EDT, 14 March 2019 | Updated: 12:19 EDT, 14 March 2019

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Remote camera traps planted deep in the African jungle have given a fascinating insight into the behaviour of wild apes.

Researchers analysed video captured from the cameras to see how they responded to unfamiliar objects.

Footage shows different species appearing to notice the cameras, even poking them, staring straight into the lens and occasionally biting them.

They observed chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas and found that responses varied by species and even among individuals within the same species.

They say that this type of research demonstrates a need for scientists to consider how animals will respond to the presence of monitoring equipment in their habitats. 

Remote camera traps planted deep in the African jungle give a fascinating insight into the behaviour of wild apes Researchers analysed the video captured from the cameras to see how they responded to unfamiliar objects
Remote camera traps planted deep in the African jungle give a fascinating insight into the behaviour of wild apes Researchers analysed the video captured from the cameras to see how they responded to unfamiliar objects

Remote camera traps planted deep in the African jungle give a fascinating insight into the behaviour of wild apes Researchers analysed the video captured from the cameras to see how they responded to unfamiliar objects

Ammie Kalan, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said the goal was to see if the presence of research equipment had any effect on their behaviour. 

She said that they also wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour and if there were any differences among the three great apes.

'We were specifically surprised by the differences in reactions we observed between the chimps and bonobos,' Dr Kalan said.

'Since they're sister species and share a lot of the same genetic makeup, we expected them to react similarly to the camera, but this wasn't the case.' 

The team found that chimpanzees were overall uninterested in the camera traps, barely seeming aware of the presence if the cameras.

'Yet the bonobos appeared to be much more troubled by camera traps; they were hesitant to approach and would actively keep their distance from them.'

Individuals within a species reacted differently to the cameras as well. For example, apes living in areas with more human activity were desensitised to foreign objects. 

Doctor Ammie Kala, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said the goal was to see if the presence of research equipment had any effect on their behaviour. The chimpanzees were overall uninterested in the camera traps

However, another member of the same species who has had less exposure to strange or new items, showed more interest.

The age of the ape plays a similar role. 'Younger apes would explore the camera traps more by staring at them for longer periods of time,' Kalan says. 

'Like human children, they need to take in more information and learn about their environment. Being curious is one way of doing that.' 

The range of responses shown by the apes, and the complex differences both between species and within a single species. 

The research team wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour and if there were any differences among the three great apes. Younger apes would explore the camera traps more by staring at them for longer periods of time, they said
The research team wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour and if there were any differences among the three great apes. Younger apes would explore the camera traps more by staring at them for longer periods of time, they said

The research team wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour and if there were any differences among the three great apes. Younger apes would explore the camera traps more by staring at them for longer periods of time, they said

Doctor Ammie Kala, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said the goal was to see if the presence of research equipment had any effect on their behaviour. She said that they also wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour
Doctor Ammie Kala, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said the goal was to see if the presence of research equipment had any effect on their behaviour. She said that they also wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour

Doctor Ammie Kala, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said the goal was to see if the presence of research equipment had any effect on their behaviour. She said that they also wanted to see has any effect on their behaviour

The researchers say that the footage demonstrates means that scientists need to consider animals responce to the presence of unfamiliar monitoring equipment.

'The within and between species variation in behaviour towards the unfamiliar items might be problematic when trying to collect accurate monitoring data,' Dr Kalan said.

'To curb this effect, it would be worth having a familiarisation period, where the wild animals can get used to the new items.' 

 The findings were published in Current Biology. 

WHICH IS SMARTER: CHIMPS OR CHILDREN?

Most children surpass the intelligence levels of chimpanzees before they reach four years old.

A study conducted by Australian researchers in June 2017 tested children for foresight, which is said to distinguish humans from animals.

The experiment saw researchers drop a grape through the top of a vertical plastic Y-tube.

They then monitored the reactions of a child and chimpanzee in their efforts to grab the grape at the other end, before it hit the floor.

Because there were two possible ways the grape could exit the pipe, researchers looked at the strategies the children and chimpanzees used to predict where the grape would go.

The apes and the two-year-olds only covered a single hole with their hands when tested.

But by four years of age, the children had developed to a level where they knew how to forecast the outcome.

They covered the holes with both hands, catching whatever was dropped through every time.

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