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Survival, interactions with conspecifics and reproduction in 37 chimpanzees released into the wild

Goossens, Benoit ORCID:, Setchell, J. M., Tchidongo, E., Dilambaka, E., Vidal, C., Ancrenaz, M. and Jamart, A. 2005. Survival, interactions with conspecifics and reproduction in 37 chimpanzees released into the wild. Biological Conservation 123 (4) , pp. 461-475. 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.01.008

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We report the results of eight years of post-release monitoring of 37 wild-born, captive chimpanzees released into the Conkouati-Douli National Park, Republic of Congo. Overall survival was high, with 23 (62%) individuals remaining in the release zone, and only 5 (14%) confirmed dead. Released females regularly interacted with wild chimpanzees. Several females appeared to have integrated into wild groups for extended periods of time, and four released females gave birth to a total of five offspring. However, encounters with wild chimpanzees were a major cause of mortality in released males, and 40–50% of released males would have died without veterinary intervention. These sex differences are in accordance with knowledge of chimpanzee behavioural ecology. Our results demonstrate that wild-born, captive chimpanzees can be released into the wild successfully, under certain specific conditions. Most importantly, careful planning and preparation is critical at all stages; a suitable release area must be identified; potential risks to existing wild populations, including the possibility of disease transmission, must be minimised; and post-release monitoring is essential. Adolescent females are the most suitable candidates for release, as they appear to be able to integrate successfully into wild communities. However, males should not be released where wild chimpanzees occur, as they are likely to be attacked and killed. Release into the wild addresses the welfare of certain individual animals, although it clearly cannot address the fate of all captive, wild-born chimpanzees. Knowledge of how to successfully release chimpanzees into the wild also has both current and potential future benefits for the conservation of wild chimpanzee populations.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pan troglodytes troglodytes; Post-release monitoring; Social integration; Survival; Translocation.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0006-3207
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 08:32

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