Let’s face it; when you’re thirsty, you’ll do just about anything to wet your whistle. That said, you can probably understand the struggle for clever chimps, which can apparently get pretty crafty in the wild when they’re craving a drink and want fresh water.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Primatology, which involved long-term observation of chimps from the Comoé National Park of Ivy Coast, these smart little creatures have been observed utilizing sticks and twigs as tools to get to water in hard-to-reach places thanks to hidden cameras.
Image Credit: Sasint/Pixabay
They do this by chewing on the ends of these sticks and twigs to flatten them out give them a bushier appearance. This makes them more absorbent, kind of like a sponge, and means that when the chimps dip it into the water, they can pull out a good amount of it from the tight spot to drink.
"The use of brush-tipped sticks to dip for water is completely new and had never been described before," lead author Juan Lapuente, from the Comoe Chimpanzee Conservation Project said to BBC News in a statement. "These chimps use especially long brush tips that they make specifically for water – much longer than those used for honey. The longer the brush, the more water they collect."
Numerous examples of these chewed sticks and twigs are shown in the comparisons below, which were discovered as a part of the study:
Image Credit: Lapuente et al. 2016
More interestingly, the chimps were found more likely to use this tactic to get to cleaner water during the drier months when clean water is more scarce.
Drinking from harder-to-reach sources, such as crevices or holes in trees, can be safer than trying to drink out of rivers because more often than not, it may have been put there due to rain, making it somewhat fresher after having been filtered by mother nature.
Chimps are often spotted using a wide variety of different kinds of tools to get jobs done in the wild, just as other animal species like birds have. On the other hand, if we’re ever to truly understand why animals create tools and how they use them, this is something we’ll have to continue to study up close and in person.
Fortunately, with the development of modern wilderness observation systems, such as discrete cameras that can be placed in an animals’ wild habitat, we can monitor these animals without disturbing them and see how things really go down when we’re not looking.