, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 274–284 | Cite as

Within-group cannibalism by adult male chimpanzees

  • Toshisada Nishida
  • Kenji Kawanaka


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.

Key Words

Pan troglodytes Cannibalism Infanticide Female transfer 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bygott, J. D., 1972. Cannibalism among wild chimpanzees.Nature, 238: 410–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Goodall, J., 1977. Infant killing and cannibalism in free-living chimpanzees.Folia Primatol., 28: 259–282.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. ————, 1983. Population dynamics during a 15 year period in one community of free-living chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania.Z. Tierpsychol., 61: 1–60.Google Scholar
  4. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M., T. Hasegawa &T. Nishida, 1984. Demographic study of a large-sized unit-group of chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania: A preliminary report.Primates, 25: 401–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hrdy, S. B., 1979. Infanticide among animals: A review, classification, and examination of the reproductive strategies of females.Ethol. & Sociobiol., 1: 13–40.Google Scholar
  6. Kawanaka, K., 1981. Infanticide and cannibalism in chimpanzees, with special reference to the newly observed case in Mahale Mountains.Afr. Study Monogr., 1: 69–100.Google Scholar
  7. Nishida, T., 1979. The social structure of chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. In:The Great Apes,D. A. Hamburg &E. R. McCown (eds.), Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, pp. 73–121.Google Scholar
  8. ————, 1983. Social relationships of immigrant female chimpanzees.Anima, 11(3): 45–47. (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  9. ———— &M. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1985. Responses to a stranger mother-son pair in the wild chimpanzee: A case report.Primates, 26: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ————, ————,T. Hasegawa &Y. Takahata, 1985. Group extinction and female transfer in wild chimpanzees in the Mahale National Park.Z. Tierpsychol., 67: 284–301.Google Scholar
  11. ————,S. Uehara &R. Nyundo, 1979. Predatory behavior among wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains.Primates, 20: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Norikoshi, K., 1982. One observed case of cannibalism among wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains.Primates, 23: 66–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pusey, A., 1979. Intercommunity transfer of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park. In:The Great Apes,D. A. Hamburg &E. R. McCown (eds.), Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, pp. 465–479.Google Scholar
  14. ————, 1980. Inbreeding avoidance in chimpanzees.Anim. Behav., 28: 543–552.Google Scholar
  15. Suzuki, A., 1971. Carnivority and cannibalism observed among forest-living chimpanzees.J. Anthropol. Soc. Nippon, 79: 30–48.Google Scholar
  16. Takahata, Y., in press. Adult male chimpanzees kill and eat a male newborn infant: Newly observed intra-troop infanticide and cannibalism in the Mahale National Park, Tanzania.Folia Primatol.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshisada Nishida
    • 1
  • Kenji Kawanaka
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Faculty of ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of AnthropologyOkayama University of ScienceOkayamaJapan

Personalised recommendations