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Watch: Study Captures Wild Great Apes Reacting to Camera Traps

By Tim Binnall

A fascinating study out of Africa saw scientists place camera traps in the jungle habitats of various great ape species and, in turn, captured some truly remarkable reactions from the creatures to the devices. The purpose of the project was reportedly to see how different apes responded to unfamiliar objects in their native environment. In total, 14 camera traps were placed in different locations and captured 43 instances in which either a chimpanzee, bonobo, or gorilla spotted the technological interloper in their midst.

According to lead researcher Dr. Ammie Kalan, the study found that the responses of the three different species of ape varied considerably and produced some surprising results. Specifically, she noted that chimpanzees appeared to be largely disinterested in the camera traps, while bonobos often acted fearful of the devices and went out of their way to avoid them. Delving even deeper into how the creatures reacted, the scientists also observed that younger apes, as well as those which had little prior interaction with humans, were particularly intrigued by the camera traps.

Beyond the behavioral insights produced by the study, scientists say that the camera trap project provides some guidance for researchers when it comes to using the devices to monitor wild ape species. To that end, Kalan suggested that familiarizing the animals with the novel objects would help to curb some of the consternation exhibited by the creatures and, in turn, allow for a more accurate assessment of their living conditions.

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