chimpanzee sleeping beds

Interestingly, all the great apes build nests. Although these are not permanent structures, like in birds, each ape will throughout his or her life construct a new nest every night and sometimes a day nest which is used for resting in the afternoon. An individual in its lifetime may build more than 20,000 nests, making this behavior the most pervasive form of technology in nonhuman primates. This is where my research comes in; I am interested in how our closest cousins, the chimpanzees, build nests and the function of these structures. My research isbased on Rubondo Island situated on Lake Victoria.

                             A CHIMP NEST

Here is a group of nests in one tree, the stars mark the position of the nests

                                              CHIMP NEST TREE

I am collecting various bits of information about these nests, such as the location of the nest in the tree, its height above ground and the number of chimpanzees sleeping in one group.

Sometimes in order to collect this information we have to clamber up to the nest.

this nest was about 5 metres from the ground

James searching for chimp hairs in the nest

A chimpanzee will locate one or two strong tree limbs which will form the foundation. Onto this the chimpanzee breaks and bends several branches, interlocking them and then folding smaller twigs over the edge to form a rim. The finished structure is a circular bowl, and sometimes leafy twigs are placed inside as lining. Only a mother and her weaning offspring will share a nest.


About Nadejda Josephine

I am currently studying for a doctorate in Anthropology at University College London. My fieldwork takes place on Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The research looks at the nesting patterns and nest architecture in the Rubondo chimpanzees. I began the work in April 2012 and will remain on the island until at least October 2013. I write this blog so as not to forget this wonderful island and the random events which occur throughout my fieldwork.

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