Oldest member of famous tool-wielding chimpanzee tribe has died at the age of 71
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Fana, the iconic matriarch of a chimpanzee dynasty known around the world for using tools, has passed away in solitude at age 71.
The 71-year-old was born in 1951 and died in the forest near the village of Bossou in the southeast of Guinea.
The village has seen keen scientists travel for decades to study the incredible community of advanced chimps.
The small tribe use stone hammers and anvils to crack open nuts, which is the most sophisticated act ever observed by the genetically closest relative to humans.
The local environment ministry confirmed her death on social media, the Daily Mail reports.
Fana's body was found in the forest on September 19 and she was buried the next day in the presence of local villagers.
The news of Fana’s death came as no surprise to the people in the village of Bossou as she had been showing signs of slowing down in recent months.
One of her upper limbs was paralysed after it was dislocated nearly 25 years ago when she had a nasty tumble out of a tree.
She has long stopped climbing and lived alone as she grew less mobile, the AFP reported.
Her death is a major blow for the Bossou chimp community, with numbers steadily dwindling since 2003 when their 21-strong tribe lost seven members after a flu outbreak.
Fana's death in 2022 brings the tribe of what was only seven chimps down to six.
The news compounds fears that the clan will soon die out as more than half of the remaining Bossou chimps are females that are too old to reproduce.
The loss of the incredible clan, which is marvelled by primatologists around the world, would be a major blow to both the animal kingdom and scientific community.
The survival of the Bossou chimpanzees is reliant on the nearby villagers’ special relationship to them.
They are considered 'ancestral relatives' by the local people, who did not have a tradition of hunting the chimps.
That has changed in recent years as young hunters do not honour old traditions and now often consider the creatures to be a pest.
Additionally, deforestation has been a major issue for the Bossou chimps.
Slash and burn agriculture is used in the area, and although the chimps lived in a preserved forest around Bossou, deforestation in the surrounding lands means they have been cut off from the rest of the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, where there are larger chimp tribes.
Fana leaves behind two sons, Foaf and Fanwa.
Featured Image Credit: Nature Picture Library / Alamy.
Topics: Animals, World News, Environment, News