Attacks on local persons by chimpanzees in Bossou, Republic of Guinea: long-term perspectives
American Journal of Primatology, 72:887–896
Attacks on humans by nonhuman primates are one of the most serious causes of human–primate conflict, and strongly influence people’s perceptions and tolerance of nonhuman primates. Despite their importance, systematic and extensive records of such attacks are rare. Here, we report the attacks that occurred on local persons by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou, Republic of Guinea, from 1995 to 2009. There have been a total of 11 attacks during this period, the majority of which were directed toward children. They varied in their severity, but all were nonfatal. Attacks took place on a road and narrow paths that bordered the forest or in cultivated fields and orchards where opportunities for human–chimpanzee contact are high. Attacks occurred between the months of March and October, coinciding with wild fruit scarcity, increased levels of crop-raiding, and periods of human cultivation with likely increased human usage of paths. Although the families of attack victims felt angry and fearful toward chimpanzees after attacks, some drew on their traditional beliefs to explain why chimpanzees were respected, protected, and could not hurt them, even when attacks occurred. We provide suggestions for reducing future nonhuman primate attacks on humans in an effort to mitigate human–primate conflict situations.
attacks, chimpanzees, interspecies aggression, conflict mitigation