, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 274-284

Within-group cannibalism by adult male chimpanzees

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In the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania, a young adult male chimpanzee was observed to feed on a 3-month-old male infant of the same unit-group. Four other adult males and an adult female shared the carcass. The mother of the victim had immigrated from a neighboring unit-group four years previously. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that the first-observed cannibal male also killed the infant. The adult male and the mother of the victim had been familiar socially and sexually with each other since the female immigrated. Since the mother of the victim had usually been ranging in the peripheral part of the unit-group's range, i.e., the overlapping area of the two unit-group's ranges during pregnancy and soon after birth, the infanticidal male might have had reason to suspect the paternity of her infant. Four such cases of within-group cannibalism by adult males suggest that the female range and association pattern before and after parturition are key factors allowing an infant to survive. The possibility of male-biased infanticide is also discussed.