, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 151–162 | Cite as

New records of within-group infanticide and cannibalism in wild chimpanzees

  • Miya Hamai
  • Toshisada Nishida
  • Hiroyuki Takasaki
  • Linda A. Turner


Two cases of within-group infanticide and cannibalism were observed among the M Group chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. In both cases, victimized infants were male, 5 – 6 months of age, and in good health when killed. Four to five years have passed since the mothers of the victims immigrated into M Group as nulliparous immigrants. In one case the 2nd-ranking male was observed to detach the infant from the mother's belly. Both infants were finally killed by the alpha male after several adult males scrambled for the bodies. There was no evidence that the mothers had mated with males other than those of M Group. Nor was there evidence that the mothers had restrictive mating relationships with some of the M Group adult males. What little evidence is available shows that the mothers had mated mostly with adolescent and other immature males during their conception cycles. However, at least in one case, the mother began to mate more with adult males rather than with immature males after the infanticide. It is proposed that the function of within-group male infanticide can be explained by the male-male competition hypothesis developed for hanuman langurs and other nonhuman primates.

Key Words

Chimpanzee Infanticide Cannibalism Mahale Mountains 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miya Hamai
    • 1
  • Toshisada Nishida
    • 2
  • Hiroyuki Takasaki
    • 3
  • Linda A. Turner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Faculty of ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.The Center for African Area StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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