Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New publication using Chimp&See data investigates nocturnal activity in wild chimpanzees

The Pan African Programme: The Cultured Chimpanzee (PanAf) in collaboration with Dr. Nikki Tagg Nama (PGS Cameroon, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp) have just published a research paper investigating the nocturnal activities of wild chimpanzees. Using data from camera trap videos annotated on Chimp&See and from the PanAf collection, the researchers have been interested in the influence of different environmental factors that could lead to more nighttime activities of chimpanzees and possibly disturb their sleeping patterns.

Chimpanzees are rarely active at night after building their nests. So, it was a surprise for me and other volunteers at Chimp&See to see them on our camera trap videos at almost all sites at least occasionally walking in the darkness. We decided to tag and collect those videos. While only a tiny fraction of videos at Chimp&See show what we call the “nightchimps”, it is an interesting phenomenon and leads to questions about what general or site-specific environmental circumstances might cause more or less nocturnal activities.
After starting and curating the Chimp&See “nightchimps” collection, we got the chance to join the project to get a different perspective on the science part and support the science team beyond our regular Chimp&See moderators’ tasks.

Using the nighttime video clips identified and tagged by our volunteers and video material from other PanAf research sites, as well as associated data from environmental surveys of these sites, this study provides a first comprehensive analysis of nocturnal chimpanzee activity in the wild spanning their range and all four subspecies. The study shows that chimpanzees indeed are active at night on the terrestrial camera trap videos at almost all sites (18 out of 22 in the study), but only infrequently, making it a rare behavior still. From all observed chimpanzee activity in the videos only 1.8% occurred at night, but this amount differed from site to site considerably, from 0 videos to more than 8% of all observed chimpanzee activity at one site. The video material shows chimpanzees mostly traveling during these times, but also some social activities and feeding.


The researchers then tested whether different environmental factors like percentage of mature forest at a given site, the abundance of predators (lions, leopards, and hyenas), the abundance of other large mammals (buffalos and elephants), average daily temperature, rainfall, observed human activity, and the percentage of moon illumination on a given night affect the probability of observing chimpanzee nocturnal activity. Only three of these factors showed an effect on increased night activity: lower levels of human activity, more forest coverage of the site, and higher day temperatures – as we’ve seen at the Chimp&See site “Dry Lake” during the dry season.

As data was collected exclusively via camera trap videos, the authors speculate that these initial data might underestimate the amount of nocturnal activity. When more camera trap videos become available in the future – including at Chimp&See – they hope to find more evidence for nocturnal behaviors and its relevance for conservation and also human evolution.

This study demonstrates the unique advantage of using camera traps to find and investigate new and rare behaviors in chimpanzees and other animals, here especially those occurring at night. While it is possible to watch chimpanzees by staying at the nesting site all night, this can only be done at one of the few sites with habituated chimpanzees and a dedicated nocturnal field team. Moreover, the huge collaborative effort of the PanAf program provides the first opportunity to compare sites, environmental factors, and different populations to learn more about the evolutionary drivers of chimpanzee behavior.


If you want to join Chimp&See helping us to find more exciting chimpanzee videos and, for instance, contribute to the leopard mini-project please visit www.chimpandsee.org!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Chimp&See's 3rd Anniversary Best Chimp Clips (So Far!)

To celebrate Chimp&See's 3rd Anniversary our sci mod and PanAf scientist Dr. Maureen McCarthy compiled some of the best chimp clips from Chimp&See so far!

If you want to discover more amazing videos from equatorial Africa visit chimpandsee.org !


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Chimp&See’s 3rd anniversary: Meet the neighbors of the “Ngogo chimps”

Chimp&See started three years ago on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2015. It’s our anniversary and like every year, we want to celebrate with some background information and a big THANK YOU to now almost 10,000 volunteers!

In the last three years, the project featured camera trap footage from 13 different research sites in three regions of the entire chimpanzee distribution, namely in Western, Central, and Eastern Africa. Missing until now is only Region B that is home of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee subspecies (Pan troglodytes ellioti) and will be up on Chimp&See very soon! All temporary research sites are set up to study chimp communities that no researcher has studied (not even seen!) before or in collaboration with established long-term research sites. In the first case, an initial search for chimpanzee signs (e.g., nests, tools, vocalizations) is performed and when chimps are present, the cameras are set up and run for at least 12 months. In the case of a collaborative site, the infrastructure and local knowledge of the long-term project is used, but the field team aims for an unhabituated chimp community nearby.

At Chimp&See the research sites are then getting pseudonames, e.g., “Dry Lake”, to protect the animals, but also current and future researchers, from a potential interest of poachers and other dangers. The sites usually can only be identified to the region in the maps that display after each classification.

For this anniversary, we want for once break the rules and tell you exactly where we are. “Green Snowflake” is a collaborative research site in Kibale National Park in southwestern Uganda. Here the Pan-African program worked together with the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project Inc. to study a neighboring community to their main study group that is with more than 200 individual members the biggest known wild chimpanzee community.


The cameras had been installed in what was thought clearly outside their territory, but as it happened, the Ngogo chimps used a part of the study site, too. In addition, chimps routinely patrol the borders of their territory and venture outside when circumstances (that means here foremost: strength in numbers) allow. So unexpectedly, but luckily, we could get a glimpse at some Ngogo chimps when a big group of males, followed by field assistants, crossed in front of the cameras. Those, who are familiar with the Ngogo chimps, might even be able to identify some of them. This territorial aspect, the boundary patrols, and a partly violent path to enlarge their own territory – as well as several memorable individual Ngogo chimps – are also highlighted in last year’s documentary “Rise of the Warrior Apes” (Discovery Channel). If you get the opportunity, you should check it out!


But the majority of the Green Snowflake chimp videos show an unhabituated neighbor community of Ngogo – and it doesn’t mean that they are at the lower end of this territorial struggle! In fact, most chimp videos here show rather idyllic groupings for feeding, travelling, or play. What “our” community shares with the Ngogo chimps is a rather favorable environment of old and new forest mostly undisturbed by human activity (like logging). Although, we’ve seen them largely feeding on wood or clay as the cameras are terrestrial, the area has many mature fruiting trees and the chimps here also have an appetite for meat and hunt monkeys, with a preference for the cute red colobus monkeys. They also share, unfortunately, the dangers of snare injuries as we’ve seen in several individuals here.

If you’ve already seen Green Snowflake videos, you probably encountered the field team maintaining the cameras. Samuel Angedakin, was the PanAf field site manager responsible for setting up the “data collection zone” according to their field protocol. This included not only installing the camera traps for taking video footage (as seen now at Chimp&See), but also collecting other data and samples (plants and other environmental organic materials) to inform about ecological factors, as well as feces and hair samples for genetic analyses of chimp demographics. Sam is currently the field manager at the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project Inc. and will start his PhD at Makerere University in Uganda in fall this year.

Sam Angedakin, the PanAf field site manager for "Green Snowflake"

So, if you want to watch “Ngogo’s Neighbors” at Green Snowflake and help us classify camtrap videos, come over to Chimp&See and check out the great chimp videos, already identified individuals, and all the other animals in the North of Kibale National Park, Uganda.

Many thanks to Carolyn Rowney and Kevin Langergraber, as well as Sam Angedakin, from the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project Inc. for their great collaboration. And as always, a million thanks to all volunteers for getting involved in video annotation and chimp matching as well as always asking great questions!

Bohr, Cassini, and Titan from Green Snowflake wish you a happy Earth Day 2018!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

3.5 million classifications; 9,800 volunteers; 2,200 hours of video footage annotated!

Chimp&See reached yet another milestone: together, we made 3.5 million classifications and annotated with this more than 500,000 video clips! This huge effort helped the science team to get to date through 2,200 hours of footage – annotate all animals and behaviors seen in a video clip, tag to the species level, and identify almost 300 unique chimpanzees (and some leopards) across all sites.


We already completed 13 research sites and are more than halfway through the current one “Green Snowflake” that already by now topped all other sites in the number of chimpanzee videos found. Matching the chimps is an ongoing challenge, but we already identified several members of this community and could watch it grow as there are at least three newborn infants clinging to their mothers’ belly virtually from one month to the other.

At this beautiful Eastern African site, we could see two new (to us) behaviors as the chimps and other species spend extended periods eating decaying mineral-rich wood and also clay or soil. You can have lots of fun watching bigger groups of monkeys and chimps interacting with each other and competing for the best place to feed. Their huge enthusiasm for “wood eating” can be seen in watching the “feeding tree” practically disappear in just months.

The same tree getting dismantled on camera in just months.

Thank you for the continuous support of the project and your enthusiasm about chimps and African wildlife in general. Come over to Chimp&See and help us classify even more videos!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Best of Chimp&See 2017!!!

Hi everybody!

So here is now the best of the "Best of 2017"!

Thank you to everyone for a fun and successful "Best of 2017" event! There were some really entertaining clips nominated this year, and we hope you enjoyed the chance to revisit them. We loved all your suggestions and findings! Here are the results from the voting!

Favorite chimp!

Winner: Filou Runner Up: Kamala


Best Camera Reaction!

Winner: Puck, the leopard Runner Up: Young chimp loves the camera


Biggest Surprise!

Winner: Falling from the sky Runner Up: The duiker and the turtle


Creepiest Clip!

Winner: Bushbuck Magic! Runner Up: Just creepy!


Funniest Clip!

Winner: Young chimp loves the camera Runner Up: Bushbuck Magic!



2017 has been a wonderful year with many achievements thanks to you. We finished Aged Violet and Restless Star classifications and chimp matching. We now have a great chimp matching tutorial video [youtube]. We learned a lot about elephants here on the blog and now also with a dedicated Elephant discussion board. The selfie project on chimpanzee camera reactions is still running and we started to identify individual leopards.

Currently a new East African site Green Snowflake is running with many great chimp footage and we will open new sites in the near future. Check it out and get involved at Chimp&See!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Vote for the "Best of 2017"

In December, we asked you to nominate your favorite videos on Chimp&See in 2017 in the categories of Favorite Chimp, Funniest Video, Best Camera Reaction, Creepiest Video, and Biggest Surprise.



It was challenging, but fun, and now it's time to vote for the overall favorites! We set up a survey so you can view all the clips and send us your votes. It's a great chance to look back over the fascinating and entertaining clips from the last year and share your thoughts on the best of the best. As you view each video, you have the opportunity to give it a score of 1 (don't like it that much) to 5 (awesome!).

Voting ends on Sunday, January 14th, after which we'll tally the scores to find the winners for each category. The survey is open to anyone (one entry per computer), so feel free to share this with your family and friends so they can join in the fun and add their votes, as well!

If you have any problems or questions, please let us know. Enjoy, have fun, and may the best clips win!

🐵 Vote Now

(You are free to enter scores for as many or as few videos as you'd like, but only one voting form can be submitted per computer. Votes are anonymous. Be sure to submit your votes before January 14, 2018, at 11:00 p.m. CET.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Best of 2017: Nominate your favorite video clips!

Hi everybody!

We’ve had a really wonderful year at Chimp&See, thanks to all of you, your massive help with classifications and chimp matching, and your interest in our project!

As in 2015 and 2016, we want to wrap up this year again with a “Best of” event asking you to show us your favorite videos from this year and then let the community vote for the Top 2 in each category.

We would love to see your favorite clips in the following categories:
  • Favorite chimp!
  • Funniest clip!
  • Best camera reaction!
  • Creepiest clip!
  • Biggest surprise!

Here is how it’s working:

1) Head over to Chimp&See and nominate 1 clip per category. It's okay to pick the same clip for more than one category, or the same clip as someone else.

2) We only want to include clips from sites that we’ve worked on predominantly this year. So all nominations should come from Aged Violet and Green Snowflake only.

To nominate your favorites, post a reply in the new thread at Talk that includes the category and video ID for each nomination. This thread stays open for nominations until December 22, so take your time to find and post the best clips, cutest chimp, and most surprising discovery. We will then collect all nominations, and you can vote on the Best of 2017!

Please just remember, the clips have to come from Aged Violet and Green Snowflake.

We look forward to seeing what you loved most on Chimp&See in 2017!