Cameroon-Nigeria Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti Matschie, 1914) distribution and habitat affinities in Bakossi National Park
Keywords:Habitat, nest-group encounter rates, reconnaissance “recce” walks, sampling intensity
This study explores the extent to which habitat characteristics are affecting nest-group encounter rates of Chimpanzees in the southeast part of the BNP. We carried out a reconnaissance recce survey at a sampling intensity of 85% of 1×1sq km per grid cell. Accordingly, field operations included accessing the data collection zone within the Southeast section from the East to the South and then to the North. Reconnaissance recce walks were done within a 1km×1km grid cell. Compass, secateurs, GPSs, and Cyber trackers were used to orientate field operations. All nests irrespective of the distance from the reconnaissance recce walks, feeding signs, tree nest-group count, tree height, and water points were recorded in the cyber tracker. GPS ID and waypoints collected irrespective of the distance within the recce survey cell were recorded. For 28 surveyed grid cells, four nest sites of mixed ages containing 34 recent and eight old nests were recorded. Chimpanzee presence/signs were only recorded in the montane forest (encounter rate of 1.2/Km), and in areas of close (visibility of 5 – 10m) to open (visibility of 10 – 15m) canopies, with no sign observed in areas of highly open canopies (visibility of >15m). Also, these areas fall within an altitude of 1235 to 1325 m asl. with the presence of available water especially from waterfalls. The presence of available food for chimpanzees was also recorded in this area, and all the nests observed were tree nests. This indicates that the montane forest area provides favorable habitat conditions for chimpanzees than the sub-montane forest and montane grassland where no sign of this specie was observed.
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