, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 263-270
Date: 22 Jan 2014

New cases of inter-community infanticide by Male Chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda

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Abstract

Infanticide by males has been recorded in four chimpanzee populations, including that in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Some infanticidal attacks occur during inter-community aggression. The sexual selection hypothesis does not easily explain these attacks because they may not directly increase male mating opportunities. However, females in the attackers’ community may benefit by expanding their foraging ranges and thereby improving their reproductive success; thus infanticide may increase male reproductive success indirectly. We report two new cases of infanticide by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park. Like two previous cases, these occurred during a boundary patrol and were almost certainly between-community infanticides. The patrolling males attacked despite the proximity of males from the victims’ presumed community. This probably explains why, unlike the earlier cases, they did not completely cannibalize their victims. Such attacks seem to be relatively common at Ngogo and infanticide may be an important source of infant mortality in neighboring communities. Our observations cannot resolve questions about the sexual selection hypothesis. However, they are consistent with the range expansion hypothesis: the infanticides occurred during a period of frequent encounters between communities associated with a mast fruiting event, and Ngogo community members greatly increased their use of areas near the attack site during another mast fruiting event one year later. Our observations contribute to growing evidence that lethal intergroup aggression is a common characteristic of wild chimpanzee populations.