Chimps caught on camera failing to respect human property rights

Chimpanzees in Uganda have been caught on film taking food from their former habitat, which is now farmland.

Screenshot, PLOS Media
A chimp is seen stealing food in this image from a camera trap.

Groups of roving chimpanzees were caught red-handed stealing crops from farmers in Uganda at night, by hidden camera traps.

The pesky primates may have developed their thieving behavior as a way of co-existing with their human neighbors, whose farmland has been encroaching on the chimps' habitat, researchers say.

A team of scientists laid camera traps in the maize fields of Uganda's Kibale National Park to observe the animals' illicit activities. Over the course of three weeks, the cameras recorded a total of 14 crop raids, according to the study, published today (Oct. 22) in the journal PLOS ONE. [See Video of Chimps Stealing Food]

Chimpanzees usually hang out in groups of three, but the researchers observed parties of about eight chimps in the videos of the raids. Some females in the videos even had infants clinging to them.

The videos also revealed the chimps raiding crops at night, a risky behavior because more predators may be around. Nighttime raids have occasionally been reported during full moons, but this is the first time the animals have been known to engage in such frequent raids in the darkness, the researchers said. The animals also spent more time in the maize field and didn't appear very vigilant during these raids.

The steady spread of human activities and agriculture is destroying chimpanzee habitats in the area, so the animals may be adjusting their behavior to find new opportunities to forage, the researchers said.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Chimps caught on camera failing to respect human property rights
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today