Chimpanzee grooming experience during Chimpanzee tracking

chimpanzee grooming, kibale national park

Chimpanzee grooming experience during Chimpanzee tracking.

The Chimpanzee grooming experience involves watching chimpanzees removing pieces of dirt, plants, dried skin, bugs and insects from the hair or body of another chimpanzee or off of themselves using their mouth, teeth or hands.

Chimpanzee grooming behavioral interaction can be observed on some occasions during Chimpanzee tracking in Uganda.

Chimpanzees groom each other in turns and in pairs which creates special bondage or friendship majorly between the elder chimpanzee and younger chimpanzee.

Often times chimpanzee grooming sessions occur in preparation of a long movement within or to a distant feeding area in search for better food as the Chimpanzees won’t like moving with parasites on their bodies to the new feeding zone. Grooming is always done while on the ground after feeding in the morning or on raised shorter vegetation during wet seasons as Chimpanzees don’t like staying on the ground during the wet season.

Grooming, the act of tidying, cleaning, or brushing oneself or another, occurs  in both chimpanzees and humans. In fact, grooming is seen in all primates, though it is performed differently within each species.

For humans and chimpanzees, both males and females are involved in grooming. However, grooming plays a special role in the lives of chimpanzee males and their dominance hierarchy.  Studies show that large males rely more on physical attacks than other techniques to dominate other chimpanzees. Small males rely on grooming other male and female chimpanzees to gain their support and remain in good standing within the community. This helps the less dominant males form alliances to guard against larger males. As a result of these behaviors, smaller males tend to groom more often than larger males that do not need support from others.

Social grooming in chimpanzees can serve other functions as well. For example, a chimpanzee who had previously been groomed by another chimpanzee will be more likely to repay that favor in the future, either by grooming or sharing food. This means that in chimpanzees and in humans, if we do something nice for another, that individual is likely to do something nice for us. This is called reciprocal altruism.

A chimpanzee may request to be groomed by approaching another chimpanzee and presenting a part of his or her body for grooming.  A grooming session may include several individuals of different ages and genders, and can last for a few seconds, minutes, or even hours! Both chimpanzee and human mothers groom their infants.

The most obvious purpose of grooming in the chimpanzee is the removal of unwanted debris from their coats. But, during times of relaxation, a chimpanzee may often be found grooming another chimpanzee or its own hair. When we want to relax, we often take a bath or get a massage. Just think, grooming is associated with relaxation in chimpanzees and in us! Normally, the chimpanzee uses one hand to hold the hair back while the other hand, lips, or teeth are used to pick out and remove the unwanted small pieces.

Chimpanzee grooming is a very important social interaction for chimpanzees and is used to maintain friendly ties among family and community members.

Chimpanzee tracking can be done in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on a range of our safari packages like the 3 days chimpanzee tracking safari in Kibale national park, Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda.

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