Christophe Boesch Do Wild Chimpanzee Populations Develop Diverse Cultures?

Christophe Boesch is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig as well as Honorary Professor at the Department of Zoology at the University of Leipzig, Germany. His research revolves around the cultures of primates, especially chimpanzees. Among other things he seeks to understand their social interactions, cognitive capacities, tool-use and hunting behavior. Boesch is also the founder and president of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation which aims at saving and preserving the remaining wild chimpanzees and their habitat. In 2015, Boesch and his foundation received the St. Andrew Prize for Environment for these efforts.

Area of Research


since 1997


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

since 2000

Founder and President

Wild Chimpanzee Foundation

since 1999

Honorary Professor

Leipzig University (Universität Leipzig)

Department of Zoology


Assistant Professor

University of Basel (Universität Basel)

Department of Population Biology


Postdoctoral Research Associate

University of Zurich (Universität Zürich)

Department of Ethology



University of Basel (Universität Basel)



University of Zurich (Universität Zürich)

Department of Ethology and Wildlife Research


Diplôme de Biologiste

University of Geneva

Faculty of Biology

- Behavioral and Brain Sciences

- International Journal of Primatology

- Pan Africa News

- Committee for the Care and Conservation of Chimpanzees

- Fyssen Foundation

- International Primate Protection League

- International Primatological Society

- IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group

- Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour

- Steering Committee of the World Heritage Species Status Taskforce

- World Wide Fund for Nature International


- St. Andrews Prize for the Environment (2015)

- Medal "Officier de l'Ordre National" by the President of Côte D’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara (2013)

- Phillip Morris Research Price, München (1999)

- Prix Cortaillod for Talented Swiss Scientists under 35 Years old, University of Neuchâtel (1985)


- Great Apes Fellowship of the Leakey Foundation, Pasadena (1987, 1989)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

"The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology unites scientists with various backgrounds (natural sciences and humanities) whose aim is to investigate the history of humankind from an interdisciplinary perspective with the help of comparative analyses of genes, cultures, cognitive abilities, languages and social systems of past and present human populations as well as those of primates closely related to human beings". (Source)


Humans pride themselves on having extensive and diverse cultures. However, cultures can also be observed in animals. The research presented in this video aims at understanding the cultures of wild chimpanzee populations in several African countries and how they differ from each other. As chimpanzees avoid human contact, CHRISTOPHE BOESCH explains, the research team conducted the study by setting up camera traps to catch chimpanzee behavior on video. Forty locations were carefully selected to make sure interesting behavioral patterns would be observable. The vast amount of video material reveals how the diversity of chimpanzee culture is still underestimated: the chimpanzee groups exhibit a surprising variety of behavior, for example in food hunting or display, which is partly shaped by their environment. Sadly, this study also indicates to what extent the habitat of chimpanzees has already been irretrievably destroyed.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Chimpanzee Accumulative Stone Throwing

  • Hjalmar S. Kühn, Ammie K. Kalan, Mimi Arandjelovic, Floris Aubert, Lucy D'Auvergne, Annemarie Goedmackers, Christophe Boesch and et al.
  • Scientific Reports
  • Published in 2016
Hjalmar S. Kühn, Ammie K. Kalan, Mimi Arandjelovic, Floris Aubert, Lucy D'Auvergne, Annemarie Goedmackers, Christophe Boesch and et al.. "Chimpanzee Accumulative Stone Throwing." Scientific Reports 6 (2016).