Map of the five chimpanzee communities that are or were under observation by the Taï Chimpanzee Project. Black lines represent the trail system within the research area. The chimpanzee territories are marked with GPS tracks of focal follows in the year 2014. North group is green, South group is red, East group is blue and North-East group is marked with dots for sightings. Middle group was once between North and South group.
Habituation of the North group started in 1979 by Christophe and Hedwige Boesch. Since 1984 the group is fully habituated and chimpanzees can be followed without visually loosing them.
Much of the knowledge on the behaviour of Taï chimpanzees derives from observations on the North group chimpanzees:
- Collaborative hunting of colobus monkeys (e.g. Boesch & Boesch 1989, Boesch 1994)
- Nut cracking behaviour (Boesch & Boesch 1983, Boesch et al. 1994)
- The bases of chimpanzee culture (Boesch 2012)
- The diversity and effectiveness of conflict managment strategies in Taï Chimpanzees (e.g. Wittig & Boesch 2003, 2010)
- Referentiality of calls and social learning in vocal communication in Taï Chimpanzees (e.g. Corckford et al. 2004)
... and much more
However, the history of the North group is also closely related to the struggle of protecting the remaining populations of West African chimpanzees. In the early 80s the North group group consisted of more than 70 individuals. By now (2015) only 18 remain.
Group composition (2015): 3 adult males, 6 adult females, 9 juvenile and infants
Habituation of the South group started in 1994. Since 1997 the group is fully habituated and chimpanzees can be followed without visually loosing them.
South group became the main research group in 2002 after another outbrake of respiratory disease in the North group. A lot of the knowledge on the behaviour of Taï chimpanzees derives from observations on the South group chimpanzees:
- Sexual behaviour of Tai chimpanzees (e.g. Deschner et al. 2004)
- Reciprocity and cooperation levels (e.g. Gomes et al. 2009)
- Spatial cognition: location and memory of food trees (e.g. Normand et al. 2009)
- Nut cracking traditions of communities (e.g. Luncz et al. 2015)
In 1995 the community consisted of about 60-70 individuals. By now (2015) only 38 remain. One additional adult male of south group has been expelled from the community and roams the territory without contacting the others.
Group composition (2015): 5 adult males, 14 adult females, 19 juvenile and infants
Habituated in between 1998 and 2000, Middle group was supposed to bridge the gap between North and South group. Unfortunately from the beginning Middle group was extremely small (only 12 individuals). However it became the first community in Tai where playback experiments were conducted. After a continuous decline in numbers, we stopped following the Middle group in 2003 on daily bases. Today (2015) the group seems still to consist of 1 adult male and 1 adult female.
Habituation of the East group started in 2000. Since 2005 the group is fully habituated and chimpanzees can be followed without visually loosing them.
East group has become very important as a comparative group to South group. Most recent studies compare to certain extend the behaviour of two or more groups - Est group being all the time one of them.
Est group became most famous due to the old patriarch Freddy, who regularly adopts orphans. One of these adoptions features in the Disney Nature Movie 'Chimpanzee', which was filmed in Taï with the East group.
Some of the knowledge on the behaviour of Taï chimpanzees that derives from observations on the East group chimpanzees:
- Adoptions (Boesch et al. 2010)
- Coordinating male ranging (Eckhardt et al. 2015)
- Intergroup encounters (Boesch et al. 2008)
In 2005 the community consisted of about 60 individuals. By now (2015) only 33 remain.
Group composition (2015): 5 adult males, 11 adult females, 17 juvenile and infants
Habituation of the PanAf group started in 2014. Coming in from the North-east this new community has started to drive North group out of their original territory and set a lot of pressure on South and East group. Due to a temporary study site of the PanAf project in the area in 2012 / 2013 we know that this community has an estimated 60-70 individuals. In 2015 we were able to observe parties with 10-12 adult males.