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Semliki Chimpanzee Project (SCP) Duties and Data Collection

Kevin D. Hunt.  Revised 4 August 2011

1.  Getting Started.  Past camp directors report a variety of first impressions.  Some are somewhat overwhelmed and overstimulated, particularly folks without much international travel experience.   Others want to be in the forest the same day they arrive.  Still others report that between jetlag and travel they’re so tired they feel not much of anything.  Whichever it is for you, there are three things you need to do over the first few days.

A.  Get familiar with the facility and the people.  You can only do this by walking around having a look, meeting people.   Here are some important people:

Moses Comeboy:  he’s the cook and camp manager.  In a pinch, I can rely on him to brief a new researcher; he has a good sense of how the project runs.  He buys our supplies in Fort Portal once a month.  He’s your first point of contact for most issues that arise in camp. 

Rangers:  In theory there are two UWA rangers in camp.  In practice it ranges between zero and two.  At one time UWA required that a ranger will accompany researchers in the forest.  That’s no longer required, and may not even be possible.  Always go with a second person, though. 

Wilfred Baluku, Maate Hapson, Wesley Mumbere:  Trail slashers/porters.  They slash trails, carry water, slash the compound (which keeps down both snakes and fire), help with cooking and food prep, carry firewood to boil drinking water, and do a little bit of laundry.  Justus has with us a year.  Mustafa is a relatively new hire.  Moses and Justus know the forest well and have enough experience with primates to give good advice about finding the chimps; involve them in your research as needed.

Lodge Managers:  There are currently (January 2013) no permanent lodge managers.  We have a reciprocal relationship, and they will as helpful in as they can.  We help them by being polite and welcoming to tourists, and they give us occasional rides and loans of equipment.  Always make sure you phone them before going over to the lodge, and if you need help with something, ask them well in advance and politely.  If you are going to town, try to phone them to ask if they need anything.  We help the lodge tremendously by accommodating tourists, so you needn’t feel guilty when you need help.

B.  Get familiar with the records and equipment.  There are a number of project trunks in which all the equipment, records, samples, medical supplies and other oddments are kept.  Before too many days have passed you should have a quick pass through the trunks.  You’ll find old records that don’t make much sense to you, but you’ll see how things have been done in the past, which is sometimes helpful.  Among the things you may notice are random notes dated something like “June 3.”  You’ll wonder “who wrote this, and June 3 what year?”  Everything you write down should have your name and the proper date on it.

C.  Keeping Going.  You won’t absorb everything at first, and you’ll misunderstand some directions.  Perhaps the most important things you can do to stay sharp is to reread these data collection protocols once a month.  When you do, you may find that either you’ve gradually slipped into doing one thing or another incorrectly, or you may find that you misunderstood some protocol, and with your greater experience, it now make sense.  Review the protocols.

D.  Winding down.  Most of my assistants have found that as the time for their departure approaches, they begin to wind down.  Keeping records seems more tedious.  It’s harder to get up in the morning.  The nicest thing you can do for me and for your replacement is to put in that extra effort the last week or two to make sure you’ve updated all the records, left notes on important issues, and passed on whatever information needs to be passed on to your successor. 

E.  Hazing?  It is frequently the case that staff will use the confusion inevitable in the transition between APDs to manipulate things to their advantage.  In the past they’ve convinced naïve APDs that they are paid even when they are absent (they’re not—pro-rate their salaries for days they miss), that the project has always loaned them money or given them advances (wrong), or that their salaries are different than what I’ll tell you here.  Other times they just attempt to get away with all manner of misbehavior.  Unfortunately, this stress comes at the beginning, before you’ve settled in.  If there are any questions, tell them you can’t commit until you’ve communicated with me.

2.  Staff policies and supervision.  You are responsible for motivating and directing the staff.  It pays to be firm but kind.  You may come to feel close to the staff over your tenure, even that you are becoming friends.  You’re not.  There is a huge income gap between you and them, and in my experience they are aware of it at every moment.  It is exceedingly difficult—I would say impossible—to be both a boss, responsible for disciplining them and firing them if necessary, and a friend.  If you have any questions, Keith and Nadia can help.

A.  Work days.  Regular work is Sunday-Friday.  Saturday staff do not usually go into the forest for chimping, slashing or other work, but attend to camp maintenance and other project duties. 

B.  Weekly leave.  All staff get four paid days off per month, during which time they normally travel to their homes outside the resrve.  Staff can travel in the late afternoon or early evening after their workday is finished, and must return in time to complete a full workday. In other words, travel must be engaged in as part of leave, without missing a work day. Discuss the schedule with Camp Manager Moses.

C.  Vacation.  12 days a year (in addition to 4 days a month off).  You’ll have to keep track of when they take this.

D.  Missed work.  Sometimes emergencies occur and staff need time off.  This should be rare, and the emergencies should be real.  When a day is missed, staff lose that day’s pay.  If a staff member has taken their day’s off and don’t show up on the day they are due to return, this is a serious problem.  It disrupts other staff who may be planning their days off and can result in another porter being unable to work in the forest.  When a staff member is a no-show, at the minimum they are fined a pro-rated amount on their pay, i.e., 1/30th of their monthly pay per day missed.  Policy is to verbally warn them the first instance and impress of them the disruption this causes.  In the second instance they should be given a warning letter, and a copy of that letter put in their file.  Two letters of warning warrants firing.  You can use your discretion with these guidelines, but keep in mind that exceptions will create resentment among the other staff.  Leaves for emergencies, e.g., funerals are two days maximum, and their pay is docked for the missed days.  They can also use their vacation days for emergencies, but in any case it’s still limited to two days. 

E.  No stacking.  Staff cannot stack days, i.e., carry days off forward from month to month—if they only take 2 days off in a particular month, they cannot add those to days to their normal 4 in the next month by to take off 6. 

F.  Medical.  We have a first aid kit, and many medical issues can be treated using the kit.  We also pay for half of medical care, within reason (use your discretion), but it shouldn’t add up to much.  If it’s a big bill you can consult with me.  For covered medical costs they need to give you a receipt that includes their name .  

G.  Salaries.

Wilfred Baluku 150000
Maate Hapson 150000
Moses Comeboy 250,000
Wesley Mumbere 150,000


H.  Loans.   APDs and more so SCP must not loan money to staff or give them advances on their salary.  The more money a staff member owes to the project, the greater the temptation to take another job and keep the loan when they go.  It’s worse than that.  Once they are absconding with the loan, the temptation is to steal something when they go.  It’s worse than that, when a staff member owes money they believe they can’t be fired, and their performance suffers.  If staff ask for a loan, a far better solution when a staff member has a large expenditure coming up is the ‘microloan’ solution.  is to ask each staff member to set aside a certain amount each month, say, 10,000/=.  If four staff participate, the total accumulates and 40,000/= per month.  When the pot reaches the desired amount and a little more, the microloan recipient receives his investment and the microloan amount.  He continues to contribute 10,000/= per month but now this goes to repaying the loan, and the next microloan applicant receives the pot in due course.  Staff are much less likely to stiff fellow staff members both because there is a social connection among them, but also because unlike SCP, fellow staff know where they live.


3.  Camp

A.  Maintenance.  Fix things when they break, and try to gradually improve things. Among the tasks you’ll need to schedule are:

Termites.  Ask Moses to help you check the wood structures in camp for termites regularly. When you find them, destroy their tunnels and kill them with Doom. 

Tents:  repair as needed.  Moses will help find a worker to do it.

Slashing:  The grass needs to be kept short to keep down the snakes and avoid burning down the platforms and tents when there are bush fires.  We lost our toilet in 2010 when slashing was done poorly.  In fact, this is an object lesson.  Our camp manager was loaned a large amount of money.  He began to drink.  He began to inflate bills for food bought in the market.  He failed to maintain camp and didn’t renew our vehicle insurance (a job that was part of his duties).  He was fired, the toilet burned down and the vehicle was destroyed in a crash.  It began with the loan.

Clean:  The dining area floor, the kitchen floor, the grounds, the toilet, all are irregular duties easy to ignore.  The guys will need to be told to clean things.

Improve:   The paths occasionally need to be neatened, and gravel that has strayed away put back on the paths.  We could still use some local plants in to landscape; the lodge is a great model.

B.  Scheduling maintenance.  Every once in a while you can take a break from chimp observation, keep the slashers in camp and do one of these things, or other maintenance that needs a whole day


4. Trails.  We now have approximately 50 km of trails in the Mugiri chimpanzee community range.  When you run across a trail that’s in poor repair, you may have to ask the guys to work on it.  Bridges and other improvements need to be put in and maintained where practical.

A.  Work slow downs.  Every once in a while the slashers get mad about something and quit working hard on the trails.  You’ll need to be aware of how much they’re doing each day to make sure they’re keeping the trails in good shape.  THEY SHOULD SLASH/MAINTAIN AT LEAST A KILOMETER PER WEEK.  However, keep in mind that some trails are easier to maintain than others.  Needless to say, you should address the root problem as well.

B.  New trails.  There should be a trail to within about 500 m of wherever the chimpanzees are found.  It is up to you and the trackers to decide where trails are needed most and to get trails there.

C. Trail signs. We put trail signs every 100 m.  Some of these are missing, others were never put in place.  Replace signs as needed.

D.  Log book.  In 2010 APD David Samson started a log book system.  The slashers sign and enter a log book each day after they work on trails.  This is a good system, because they can then be held accountable for not working as hard as they should.

5. Finances.

A.  Receipts.  If you spend money without getting an official receipt, you cannot be reimbursed.  If you spend a thousand shillings or less in the market, you can make your own receipt listing the item(s) and the date, and sign it.  For items more than about a thousand, you cannot sign your own receipt, but must have people sign receipts when you pay them.  Petrol and accommodation must be on separate receipts.

B.  Keeping the Books.  You must keep track of our expenses, the ‘official’ ones will be on a spreadsheet, preferably backed up in some way.  In essence, you have to keep track of  three different "books.”  In decreasing formality they are:

 (1)  The official spreadsheet will list expenditures item by item with the item number matched to a receipt number.  The sum of all of these receipts should match the income during your tenure, starting with an initial balance that is any money you started with when you took over as APD, followed by sums received during your tenure.  These days we use MoneyGram to send money, but in the past we’ve used bank transfers and a bank accoiunt.  This will look something like this (in miniature):

Rec. No.              Date                        Item                                                 Vendor                                      Ug Shg                      US$

1                         19-May-10              Entry Visa                                        Uganda Ministry of Interior                                      $50.00

2                         19-May-10              Coffee                                               New City Annex                        3000                          $1.43

3                         20-May-10              Taxi: airport to KLA                         Local taxi                                                                    $30.00

4                         01-Jun-10                Meal                                                Gardens Restaurant                 4800                          $2.29

5                         01-Jun-10                Meal                                                Gardens Restaurant                 10000                        $4.76

6                         01-Jun-10                Boots for staff                                  Bata                                          13000                        $6.19

7                         01-Jun-10                Internet                                           Techplanet                                5000                          $2.38

8                         01-Jun-10                Phone airtime                                  Andrew and Bros.                     20000                        $9.52

9                         01-Jun-10                Boot repair                                      Bata                                          5000                          $2.38

10                       05-Jun-10                Moses Comeboy Salary                                                                    201600                      $60.00


                                                           Total                                                                                                  1,610,400                  $810.86



                           20-May-10              Balance turned over from previous APD                                          230,000                    

                           13-Jun-10                Moneygram from Kevin                                                                    412,338                    

                           11-Jul-10                 Moneygram from Kevin                                                                    872,843                    


                                                           Total Income                                                                                     1,515,181                 


The imporant thing to remember here is that in order for me to be reimbursed for the money I’ve sent you—I can’t take it directly out of my IU account, but I have to request it later with your receipts—I have to account for every penny spent with receipts.  To emphasize, YOU MUST HAVE A SIGNED RECEIPT FOR EVERY SHILLING YOU SPEND.  When you take your stipend, put a signed receipt, signed by you of course, among your pile of receipts, and record it on the spreadsheet.

There are some expenses where receipts are truly impractical, like shopping in the market in Fort Portal.  In that case you can list the items on a receipt and sign it yourself.  The more receipts I have like this, the more likely I am to be audited.  Please try to keep these to a minimum.


(2)  The amount of cash you have on hand will always be slightly different from the ‘official’ books I decribed above.  I encourage you to have a spreadsheet where you keep track of cash on hand.  It’s surprising how complicated the cash flow can be.  More than once I’ve had to remind APDs of income they had lost track of.  You should know how much money you’ve got.

(3)  You will want to make sure you know what the balance is for your own funds.  It can take some time for money to arrive in Uganda, and it’s not uncommon for APDs to delay drawing their stipend for a few weeks, or to borrow money from the project for a sudden expenses, later returning the money.  You’ll keep track of all these balances better if you keep detailed records.

David Samson shopped in the market with Moses in early 2011 to see for himself what food cost relative to quantity.  He’s produced an example below.  His advice is to make sure Moses always shows price AND quantity.  This is not just theoretical; we were forced to fire a camp manager because he was skimming money by inflating the prices for food.

The following is the price for food; it is a conservative estimate because a muzungu purchased the goods and hardly haggled at all; if prices deviate from this more than 5-10%, something else is going on:

Casava flour:                            1k (kilo) = 600

Beans:                                         1k = 2400

Matoke:                                     1 bundle = 5000

Mango:                                      1 bundle of 5 = 200

Avocado:                                   1 bundle of 5 = 500

Sweat potato:                          1 bundle of 5 = 500

Egg plant                                    1 bundle of 10 = 200

Garlic                                           1 bundle of 10 = 1000

Cabbage                                     1 large = 500

Fillet cut beef                            1k = 6000

Reg. cut beef                            1k = 5400

Kinyara sugar                           1k = 3000

Bagged sugar                           1k = 2600

Rice                                              1k = 1800

Cooking oil                                 1litre = 5000

Protex soap                               1 bar = 1500

Spaghetti                                   1k = 5000

Nomi wash soap                      1k = 8000

Salt                                               1k = 600

Wheat flour                               1k = 1750

Pineapple                                   1 = 1700

Eggs (per plate of 30)            = 8500

Passion fruit                              1 bundle of 5 = 500

Pumpkin                                     1 large = 1000

Tomato                                       1 bundle of 5 = 500

Millet flour                                 1k = 2500

Onions                                        1 bundle of 10 = 500


6. The vehicle. (right now the vehicle is out of commission)  I’ve been driving all over Africa for 20 years.  I drove from Fort Portal to Kampala 20 times before there was a highway, and twice I drove from FP to Nairobi.  I’ve never damaged a vehicle so that it needed repairs.  In less than a year, in 2010 and 2011, two SCP vehicles were totaled.  There is no excuse for that.  Don’t wreck the effing vehicle.

A persistent problem in Africa is petrol stations, repair shops and even our own staff selling off parts of the vehicle.  The scam is this:  the vehicle is out of your sight for some minutes or hours—it can happen as quickly as 10 minutes—and then the vehicle has a breakdown.  It is discovered that the battery is dead, or the cylinder head is cracked.  Or the tires are suddenly bald when they had tread earlier in the day.  A shop or an individual has substituted a worn out or broken part for one of ours in perfect repair.  The newer part is sold and we have to replace the malfunctioning one. 

Staff don’t even need to come up with the idea to rip us off on their own—felonious shop owners are on the lookout for driver’s who don’t own the vehicle, and they try to talk them into accepting a bribe to allow a swap.

If you find the need to repair the vehicle or replace a part, notify me immediately.  I have started keeping track of which parts are repaired or replaced when.


7. Monthly reports

Warden.  We make monthly reports to the warden.  These both help him in his local planning of antipoaching patrols and they allow other sorts of coordination that are important.  Make sure the warden knows of any poacher encounters, snares discovered, encroachers, illegal logging and so on.  He will also need a brief summary of chimping information, on the order of that described below for me. 

Monthly report to KDH.  This should be a very brief report on chimping data for the month.  Please report number of observation minutes for the month, number of search days, number of days a chimpanzee is sighted (actual visual contact, not, e.g., merely being close enough to hear them), and finally as a bulleted list, any other information you think I should know. Here's an example:

Chimpanzee Habituation and Data Collection, August, 2012

Search Days: 23 or 31 days

Located Days: 20 days

Chimpanzees sighted: 15 days

Ave. search minutes per day: 382

Total observations: 627 minutes

Ranging: Most observations on Upper Mugiri, Karamajong trail, M5.4-4.0; feeding evidence in Jogo Jogo.

Individuals observed: Jacko, Aye-Aye, Fuller, Mandarin, Mzee, Wrangham

Diet: Figs, Afromomum pith, Saba florida

Nested: once

Unested: once

Nest data: 17 nests on 8 days

Dung: 11 dungs collected and processed

Tourists: Group of 5 August 3 for 50 minutes, group of 3 August 21 for 74 minutes

Weather: Some dry days, light-ish rain about half the days


Snares: None encountered

Poaching: An elephant carcass was found near Sand River missing its tusks. Lodge staff and UWA rangers investigated the site. The lodge staff took photos of the carcass, which are available for our needs if necessary. Otherwise, signs of poaching were reduced during the month of July. SCP staff did not encountered signs of dogs or poachers within the chimp range. There were no signs of poacher fires within the reserve. The APD is aware of at least one anti-poaching patrol by UWA rangers during the month of August.

Other project issues

•Garage: A strong thunderstorm destroyed the garage. The materials are salvageable and the structure will be re-built in the coming weeks

•Rangers: Rangers Justice and Alimosi have not arrived at TSWR and there's still only one ranger at the Mugiri camp



8.  Data collection initiativesThe project has 10 data initiatives.  Each has its own spreadsheet for recording the data, with names like “DailyLogMaster”, the ‘master’ aspect being that this will be your official repository of the project data.  Email me at and I will give you access to templates for each spreadsheet.  You will download these masters to use as your data records.

You may not, I repeat, you may not alter these spreadsheets, neither in the recording protocol nor the number of columns.  If you do, I cannot match your data with the complete data file, my own ‘master’, and I will have to change the file back.  This is time-consuming, frustrating, and unneccessary. If you are not perfectly clear on this, ask.

The data collection initiatives are:

  • Habituation and Observation (the matching spreadsheet is “DailyLogMaster”)
  • Daily Contacts (“DailyContactMaster”)
  • Identification of individual chimpanzees (“CurrentChimpID”)
  • Climate data (“ClimateMaster”)
  • Diet (“FoodListMaster”)
  • Dung (“DungMaster”)
  • Wells (“WellsMaster”)
  • Nests (“NestMaster”)
  • Nesting/Unnesting (“NestUnnestMaster”)
  • Insect Traps


1. Habituation and Observation data:

Detailed daily records should be kept of:

1.  Time entering and leaving forest

2.  Location searched

3.  Time and location of each chimpanzee observation

4.  Number of chimpanzees observed or heard

5.  Sex and age class of each individual, when you can recognize them

6.  Identity of those chimpanzees you can suss out from the ID sheet.

7  Activity of chimpanzees when observed (feeding, resting, grooming and so on)

8.  Type of food eaten (species if possible, describe others). 

9.  The exact time of every chimpanzee vocalization you hear


Among observations that should be mentioned in comments are tool use, unusual social interactions, unusual or new foods eaten, discovery of snares or other evidence of poaching activity, new ranging data, or anything else that is unusual enough to warrant comment.

The spreadsheet columns are as follows:

  • Date:  use the format 15-Feb-11
  • Day:  just for my convenience later
  • Obs., Ex-pat:  Identity of trained researchers who search
  • Other obs.: Identity of rangers or staff members
  • Search:  Enter 0 if you do not search, 1 if you do
  • Min. in Forest:  enter the number of minutes you searched; this is one of my measures of habituation
  • Loc.: If you locate the chimpanzees but cannot see them, enter 1; enter zero if you don’t locate them.  This is a negative measure of habituation; at one time we were close enough to hear them chewing and food grunting, but they were not allow direct viewing.  It is rare now for us to locate but not sight them, so in a way this is a legacy datum.
  • Loc. evidence: non-sighting evidence like vocalization, feeding sounds, etc.
  • Vocal time: record the time you hear vocalizations; some days you may hear 20; most days much less
  • Sight: record 0 if you don’t see chimps, 1 if you do
  • Min.?  number of minutes you have visual contact with chimpanzees; do not record minutes you have ‘located’ them but cannot see them—another habituation measure.
  • Time:  Time period you see them.  A single long bout of, say 0630-1420, is a great day and an indication of good habituation.  20 different bouts are less encouraging.
  • adults #: record the number of adults you see in the course of a day
  • Location:  record the nearest trail location when you sight your first chimp of the day, and a GPS point if you get it.
  • Food?  Food type (fruit, leaf, pith, bark, blossom, seed, etc.) and species
  • Ind ID’ed:  IDs on any chimps you recognize; three letter abbreviation is ok
  • Comments: tool use, unusual social interactions, unusual or new foods eaten, discovery of snares or other evidence of poaching activity, new ranging data, or anything else that is unusual enough to warrant comment.
  • R — AE:  enter a 1 if you were in the forest any time that hour, 0 if not.

      AF. We recognize so few juveniles, I have a separate column for them

      AG, AH:  Leave blank for my calculations later

      AI: Number of individuals seen

      AK, AL:  time in and out of the forest:  for your calculation of minutes in forest.


2. Daily contacts.

This is our newest data initiative; some of the information is repeated on the Daily Log—this is only because we have not yet attempted to mine the old data for the new spreadsheet.  Obs.:  enter 1 if you observed that individual on the date indicated; leave blank if you did not observe that individual.  Enter the the trail marker location and (if you have it) the GPS datum when you first encountered the individual and when you lost him or her.


3. Chimpanzee identification.

We plan to off substantial donors the option of naming chimpanzees, so please check with me before naming any new individuals. 

Chimpanzees can be identified by the systematic notation of scars, injuries and unusual features that together will not be found in any other chimpanzee.  Together they constitute the "killing features" required to be 100% certain you have identified an individual.  Only one individual has a big toe missing, Randy, so that alone constitutes a killing feature.  When encounter a chimpanzee male, you should be able to identify him if you work down the CurrentChimpID sheet.  If you get through the entire checklist and have eliminated every possiblity, th emale is probably one of three we have not yet identified, who have no scars or other killing features. 

Before a chimpanzee can be positively identified as a new individual, a single observer must see his ventrum (front), dorsum (back), all 20 digits, both ears, full face, face in profile and genitals during one sighting.  The individual must be continually visible during the interval when these things are observed without exception.  Be aware that this is very difficult, but is essential that individuals be identified and recorded on the DailyContact sheet as often as possible.

If you encounter a new individual you will go the the ChimpFaceTemplate and draw in any helpful or killing features.  The ChimpFaceTemplate is an MS Word Draw document.  The face is generic, and your task is to manipulate the image so that it resembles your new individual.

Take particular notice of these features, and include them in your description and on your drawing (if possible):

1.)  Baldness pattern, if any

2.)  Ear shape, including any cuts or amputations

3.)  Color of face or other body parts

4.)  Scars, on any body part, but especially the face and ears

5.)  Inspect each individual finger or each hand and each individual toes.  Note missing, misshapen or otherwise injured digits, including how much of each is missing.  Draw a picture of anything unusual.

6.)  Note color, length or texture of hair if it seems unusual

7.)  Note any missing teeth

8.)  Describe the body build

9.)  For estrous females draw a picture of the swelling--it is usually distinctive.  For

      males note spots or coloration of the scrotum, or any other unusual genital features

10.)  Look for features on the face such as wrinkles, bags, shape of nose, shape of brow ridge, shape of face in profile, or beard


4.  Climate Data.

The rain gauge on the climate box needs to be checked each day it rains.  Empty it out after you’ve recorded the amount of rainfall.

The is a “Hobo” climate computer in a box in the research camp area.  It should be downloaded every week.  The instructions are in Hobo folder in the dining room.  It is great to have the raw HOBO data, but we’ve had so many compatibility issues with those data—sometimes they’re readable on the computer where they’re downloaded, but are unreadable by the time they’re on my desk—you will need to abstract some data from the downloads and enter them on the ClimateMaster spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet columns are as follows:

  • Date:  use the format 15-Feb-11
  • Time:  mostly important for Cloud Cover; try to take these measures at 7:00 am
  • Temp MIN:  Daily minimum temperature in Centigrade
  • Temp MAX:  Daily maximum temp
  • Relative Humidity minimum
  • Relative Humidity maximum
  • Daily rainfall: from the rain gauge
  • Legacy data—you can ignore
  • %Cloud Cover:  Estimate as best you can.  I find an effective method of estimating to be dividing the sky into 4 parts and estimating the percent of clouds covering that quarter, then averaging the quarters
  • Empty
  • Name of observer
  • Other columns—legacy data; you can ignore.


5. Diet.

You will be writing diet items on the Daily Log, but we also keep a “FoodListMaster.”  Check food items against this list and add any new items.

The columns in the MS Word document are:

Column 1:  Species

Column 2:  Plant part (fruits, leaf, pith or stem, bark (cambium most likely), blossom, seed, or petioles (leaf stems); meat isn’t a plant part, but we put it in this column anyway)

Column 3:  Observation; did you see it (Direct), or find it in dung, or find feeding detritus?

Column 4:  Month newly observed item was seen being eaten

Column 5 (actually there’s only a space between date and this):  Observer

Column 6:  Any further description necessary


6. DungThis is a nasty but necessary job.  We use plastic bags to collect chimpanzee dung.  The best place to find dung is underneath fresh nests.  Whenever you find a fresh nest, you should stop and search for dung underneath it.  Chimps have parasites and other pathogens in their dung, so be careful.  Whenever you encounter dung in the forest that can be positively identified as chimpanzee, take one of the plastic bags, write the date and the location on the bag, turn the bag inside out on your hand, pick up the dung, turn the bag rightside in, and seal. 

We have a dedicated trail just to the north of the entry trail from camp that goes to the dung-washing site.  This is downstream from any place we’ve ever collected water—please use this site.  Dung is processed by placing it in wire mesh and swishing is side to side and up and down in the river until only seeds are left.  Identify the contents remaining.  For seeds, we count them and estimate the percent they make up of the total volume.  For other matter, we only estimate the % volume.  The spreadsheet is as self-explanatory as I can make it.

Here are some hints:

Insect parts: do your best to identify what it is.

Piths or other plant matter. Ditto

Seeds: identify to species as best you can.  It’s worth making a big effort.  If identification is not possible, compare it to the UNIDedChimpFoods PowerPoint to see if it has an unidentified seed number.  If not, describe the seed and preserve the it in a sterile solution (e.g. alcohol) as "unidentified seed 1 (your name)", "unid. seed 2" and so on.

Identify anything else you can.

            For each dung report

  • Sample number.  Continue to add numbers to the data
  • Collector’s name
  • Column C is a legacy data point—ignore it
  • ID of the chimp, if you can get it
  • E through H are the date dung collected (for this spreadsheet we also have year, month and day in their own column)
  • Location where dung was collected, trail
  • Nearest trail marker
  • “location” is a description of the location
  • Total percents—this is a calculating cell
  • For the others, put seed numbers and %’s following the format in place


7.  Wells, or drinking holes.

If you keep your eyes open when crossing the Mugiri and other watercourses, or if you follow an individual for a long period of time, you may see a ‘drinking well.’  These are holes the chimps dig in sandy banks, often right next to streams where the water seems potable. 

Record the following data, letters keyed to the columns on the WellsMaster spreadsheet:

  • Well no.:  continue with the numbers on the master
  • Date:  in the 5-July-11 format
  • River:  Whether the area where they are digging is dry, or there is water
  • Dist. from water:  Distance from the nearest standing water, in meters.  If it’s out of sight you will have to estimate.  Once it’s greater than 20 or 30 m there’s no great need for accuracy.
  • Source:  Probably the river, but it may be a standing pool with insect and leaf detritus.
  • Min. Dia. Top:  measure the smallest dimension close to the surface of the surrounding landcape.  If the end is gently curve, the edges are defined as the point where the slope is 45°.
  • Max. Dia., Top:  Greatest dimension at the ground’s suface.
  • Min. Dia., base:  Miminum diameter at the bottom of the well, again at the point were the curve reaches 45°.
  • Max. Dia. base: Maximum diameter at the bottom of the well, again at the point were the curve reaches 45°.
  • Depth:  Distance from a point on the plane of the surrouding surface to the deepest portion of the bottom of the well.
  • Dis to nearest neighbor:  Distance in meters to the next closest well, assuming there is one nearby.
  • # in cluster:  Number of wells in a group of wells.  If you have difficulty telling if a well is in the cluster you’re measuring, describe the situation and we’ll work out a protocol later.
  • Season:  wet or dry.  Just your impression of whether you’d call it wet or dry season.
  • Location:  Nearest trail marker.
  • Sponge?  Is there a crumpled leaf or other drinking tool in or near the well?
  • Oberver: name or initials are fine
  • Sponge Material:  describe the sponge or other drinking tool
  • Direct observation:  did you see the well being made?  If so, describe in detal
  • Water in well?  Is there standing water in the well
  • Sand or soil:  Is the well made in a sandy substrate?  We have never seen otherwise; describe in detail is it’s something other than sand
  • Depth of water:  from surface of water to the bottom of the well
  • Water Quality:  is the water clear, cloudy or other?
  • Age:  Estimate how many days old the well is (fresh, 1 day, etc.)
  • Laterality of talus: often when the well is scooped out there is a pile of sand nearby.  Try to determine where the chimp sat, and then see if the pile of sand is greater on one side or the other.
  • GPS Latitude
  • GPS Longitude
  •  Photo info:  if you take a picture, tell us how to link it to the well
  • Comments


8. Nests.

Aims.  To document the variation in nest building behavior by season and group size, to document nest site preference and to compare nesting behavior at Semliki to that at other sites.

Priority.  Nest data is taken when fresh nests are discovered in the course of tracking chimpanzees.  The collection of nest data should be secondary to habituation work on the chimpanzees, so that chimp follows should never be abandoned in order to take nest data.  Instead, the location of the nest should be noted and data taken later.

Data.  Record the following data for each nest:

  • Nest Number:  continue the numbering in sequence
  • Date:  Date data were taken; use the 5-Jul-11 format
  • Season:  record "wet"or"dry"
  • Est Nst Ht:  Height of nest; we make a "by-eye" estimate for each nest by envisioning a column of men, one on top of the other, to the height of the nest.  A tall-ish person is about 2 m high, so the height is the number of stacked people times 2.
  • E-I are legacy measures; ignore them
  • Height of tree:  Estimate using the same method as above
  • K, L and M are legacy measures; ignore them
  • % canopy open:  looking at the sky from the perspective of lying in the nest, what percentage of the sky lacks tree canopy cover?
  • # nests w/in 15m:  how many nests are within 15 m of the target nest?  That is, the number will be the total number of nests near the target, each one of which is no more than 15 m from one other.  If there is a single nest, the "number of nests near the target nest" is zero.
  • Nearest Nest:  Estimate the minimum distance to the nearest nest in the cluster.
  • DBH:  Diameter at Breast Height of tree.  Using the tape measure the circumference of the tree 1.5 m from the ground and divide by pi.
  • Location:  trail name
  • Trail #:  trail marker number
  • Habitat:  Gallery Forest is 10~0+ m trees with a continuous canopy Woodland is 5-15 m trees with a more open canopy Grassland has few trees dispersed among grasses.
  • Rain:  Did it rain during the night the nest was occupied?
  • Age of nest:  fresh=last night, # of days old.
  • Tree species
  • Cluster number:  legacy data; you can ignore
  • GPS:  Record one GPS waypoint at the approximate center of the cluster of nests.
  • Slope (y/n). Is the tree of the nest on a slope or even ground?

AA. Bole height. The bole height is the distance from the ground, to the first branching of the tree in which the nest resides

AB. Crown diameter.  Estimate.

AC. River present (y/n)? 

AD.  If a river is running (vs. dry), estimate how far away it is from the nest.

AE.  Is the tree with the nest in it fruiting? 

AF.  Nest Type (0-4). See below figure.

AG. Categorical Nest Age

0 = Fresh - no bronw leaves, springy foliage, no decomposition, cannot see through

1 = New - Surface leaves are bronw; geen nder surce; slight decomposition; cannot see through

2 = Old - mattress is totally brown, high levles of decompostion (perhaps ant nest inside); can begin to see through edges, but not center

3 = Lich - matress is mulch and easily brushed off frame and boxspring.  No insects inside; can see through majority of nest.

4 = Skeleton - no mattress; only frame and boxspring.  Can see through majority of skeleton



Nest Types


9. Nesting/Unnesting.  When you follow chimpanzees to their night bed, you should record these data on the NestUnnestMaster…

For unnesting:

  • Observation number
  • Date
  • Nest number (on the NestMaster)
  • Observer:  your name or initials
  • Location of nest in relation to trail markers
  • ID or age/sex class of individual making nest
  • Tree species
  • Time leaves nest


For nesting…

  • Observations number
  • Date
  • Nest number
  • Observer
  • Location of nest in relation to trail markers
  • ID or age/sex class of individual making nest
  • Tree species
  • Time nest construction begins
  • Time chimpanzee enters nest


When a chimpanzee has been nested, you should make an extra effort to be at the nest before dawn the next day.


10. Agonism.  Record data on the AgonismMaster datasheet

A.  Identify the chimpanzee(s) using CurrentID sheet

B.  Once ID complete: begin recording agonism following Muller, 2002.  We use two sampling regimes.

      1.)  40-minute group focals will be used to generate rates of aggression for individuals.

      2.) Ad libitum observations of aggression and submission are used when observation conditions did not allow focal data to be collected.  

Behavioral categories (following Bygott 1979; Goodall 1986; Nishida 1999).

    • Charging displays
      • Exaggerated locomotion, piloerection, slapping, stamping, branch swaying and throwing; they are to be classified as either vocal or non-vocal, depending on the presence of pant-hoot call.
    • Chases
      • Recorded when an individual pursues a fleeing conspecific, who is generally screaming.
    • Attacks
      • Recorded for all contact aggression. This includes hits, kicks, or slaps delivered in passing (Goodall’s level 1), more extended episodes of pounding, dragging, and biting (Goodall’s level 2), and incidents lasting more than 30 seconds or leading to serious injury (Goodall’s level 3).

Note: In behavioral analysis, charging displays are to be categorized as low-level aggression, while chases and attacks are to be categorized as high-level aggression.  

    • Reconciliation
      • Whenever both members of dyad can be observed for 10 minutes following an aggressive interaction, affiliative contact (e.g., grooming, embracing, kissing) between the pair during that period is to be recorded as reconciliation (deWaal 1993).  

Behavioral Contexts

    • Reunion
      • Incidents occurring within 5 minutes of reunion
    • Social excitement
      • Incidents occurring upon hearing distant chimpanzee calls, or arrival at a fruiting tree
    • Sexual competition
    • Meat competition
    • Plant-food competition
    • Protection (of offspring)
    • No obvious context
  • Note: Dominance ranks can usually be assigned to male chimpanzees based on the direction of pant-grunts. 


11. Insect traps

There are 5 CDC light traps at camp, and currently 3 functional batteries.  The aim of the study is to see if there is a difference in trap loads comparing ground and nest height traps.  Therefore, only two traps are used in one night.  Each battery needs 12 hours to charge, to get a full nights use.  This may take 2 days, given the cloud cover and sunshine taken into the solar each day.  The goal is to get 3-4 trap nights in a week.

In the morning (around 6:45-7:00) you will go to the designated trap station and lower the vertical trap.  You will take out the light-sensitive chips on both traps, then tie the ends of the catching apparatus and put them into separate, labeled air sealed bags (i.e., ground vs. arboreal).  Then put acetone (nail polish remover into the bag—only a few drops should suffice to kill the insects within a few hours).

In the evening, you will record: 1) Date, and for each trap generate data on 2) catch mass and 3) # of insects in a trap.  You need the microcentrifuge tubes (which weight 1 gram) to weight the catch mass—once you put all the insects into the tube, weigh it, and subtract 1 gram. 

Before dark, you will reset the trap.  Put in the light sensitive photoreceptor (this regulates the trap to begin once it is dark and end in the morning at dawn) and attach the capture apparatus, and raise the vertical trap into position.