Frans Lanting on the Fongoli Spear Hunting Chimps

It has been far too long since I’ve updated this blog. I apologize, there certainly has not been a lack of material to share — just a lack of time and overemphasis on, which is totally my bad, I don’t intend to neglect this site again.

Anyways, photographer Frans Lanting recently travelled to take photos of the Fongoli chimpanzees Fongoli Chimps Loungingin Senegal. He was on NPR yesterday to share his experiences. The Fongoli chimps, if you don’t remember, are the ones that have been observed to hunt with spears. Jill Pruetz actually was the one to see this behavior and I covered this news last year. I was a bit skeptical, but it seems like Lanting and Pruetz were able to observe this behavior again. From the NPR article,

Lanting and Pruetz observed the primates fashioning spears from tree limbs to capture bush babies, small mammals that hide deep inside hollow trees.

“No one has ever seen that before in any other chimps elsewhere,” Lanting says.

The Fongoli chimps often displayed behaviors akin to those of early humans.

“There is very little fundamental difference in my opinion between how these chimps live and how our very earliest ancestors lived,” Lanting says. “It’s just like looking at human beings. I regard these chimpanzees as very shy, private people.”

Like humans, the male chimps also seem to have a bit of a rhythmic bent; Lanting observed them drumming on hollow baobab trees as a way of impressing potential mates and intimidating rivals.

It took several months for the Fongoli chimps to begin accepting Pruetz and Lanting, who says they wore the same clothes every day so that the animals could become accustomed to their presence.

On days that the chimps let their guard down, Lanting says, he and Pruetz were able to observe behaviors that “are all confirmation to the fact that the boundaries between humans and chimps are really quite fuzzy.”

Be sure to check out the 9 minute long audio interview with Lanting.

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