Differential utilization of cashew—a low-conflict crop—by sympatric humans and chimpanzees

Kimberley J. Hockingsa1a2 c1 and Claudia Sousaa1

a1 Departmento de Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Av. Berna, 26-C, 1069–061, Lisbon, Portugal, and Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Lisbon, Portugal.

a2 Also at: Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK


Modification of natural areas by human activities mostly has a negative impact on wildlife by increasing the geographical and ecological overlap between people and animals. This can result in escalating levels of competition and conflict between humans and wildlife, for example over crops. However, data on specific crops and crop parts that are unattractive to wildlife yet important for human livelihoods are surprisingly scarce, especially considering their potential application to reducing crop damage by wildlife. Here we examine the co-utilization of a nationally important and spatially abundant cash crop, cashew Anacardium occidentalis, by people and chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus inhabiting a forested–agricultural matrix in Cantanhez National Park in Guinea-Bissau. In this Park people predominantly harvest the marketable cashew nut and discard the unprofitable fruit whereas chimpanzees only consume the fruit. Local farmers generally perceive a benefit of raiding by chimpanzees as they reportedly pile the nuts, making harvesting easier. By ensuring that conflict levels over crops, especially those with high economic importance, remain low, the costs of living in proximity to wildlife can potentially be reduced. Despite high levels of deforestation associated with cashew farming, these findings point to the importance of cashew as a low-conflict crop in this area.

(Received April 14 2011)

(Revised June 07 2011)

(Accepted June 29 2011)


c1 (Corresponding author) E-mail hock@fcsh.unl.pt