Back in 1992, David Attenborough narrated the film Too Close for Comfort, a documentary on chimpanzee life and behavior in the Tai Forest. The Tai Forest is a national park in Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. The film centers on the work of Christophe Boesch and Hedwige Boesch-Achermann, who have been working in the Ivory Coast for years. Together the two wrote the book The Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest: Behavioral Ecology and Evolution.
I use this film in my Introduction to Anthropology class, it just has some extraordinary footage. Mike Richards, the cameraman, spent two years on this project! Here is one clip, where the chimps are filmed cooperatively hunting colobus monkeys. Wow.
There are four other clips available:
Closest links to man – the intro to the movie and the Tai chimps
Hard nuts to crack – the chimps cracking nuts with tools
Fall of Brutus – the confrontation between two dominant males that takes place over a bonanza of nuts
Eat them before they eat you – where chimps use tools to eat safari ants and a leaf sponge to drink water
Christophe Boesch has his extensive publications available for download at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. One recent publication is: Is Culture a Golden Barrier between Chimpanzees and Humans? where he argues that chimpanzees display a broad cultural repertoire, similar to humans. He wrote a 2001 piece for Scientific American on The Cultures of Chimpanzees. And if you want to know more about cooperative hunting, here’s a 2002 Human Nature paper on that.
Update: I have posted another spectacular video of chimpanzee hunting, including infrared views of their group tactics from the air as they hunt a pack of colobus monkeys.