, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 337–351 | Cite as

Infanticide in chimpanzees: Review of cases and a new within-group observation from the Kanyawara study group in Kibale National Park

  • Adam Clark Arcadi
  • Richard W. Wrangham


A prolonged attack on a mother and 2-year-old infant that resulted in the death of the infant was observed in the Kanyawara study group in Kibale National Park. The mother was a border-area resident who was first observed associating with unit-group males six years previously. The attackers were an adult male and an adult female with a 6-week-old infant clinging ventrally to her. The attack was unusual in several respects: it is the first time a male and a female chimpanzee have been observed cooperating closely in an infanticidal attack; the adult female initially attempted to intervene in the victim's behalf, but later joined in the attack after receiving aggression from the male; and the episode was longer in duration than other reported cases. In the year following the incident, the mother did not increase her association with community males, but was seen with the male who killed her infant. The relevance of these observations to sexual selection-based explanations for infanticide in chimpanzees is discussed.

Key Words

Chimpanzee Infanticide Cooperation Sexual selection Kanyawara 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bakuneeta, C.;Inagaki, H.;Reynolds, V. 1993. Identification of wild chimpanzee hair samples from feces by electron microscopy.Primates, 34: 233–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartlett, T. Q.;Sussman, R. W.;Cheverud, J. M. 1993. Infant killing in primates: a review of observed cases with specific reference to the sexual selection hypothesis.Amer. Anthropologist, 95: 958–990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borries, C. 1997. Infanticide in seasonally breeding multimale groups of Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus) in Ramnagar (South Nepal).Behav. Ecol Sociobiol., 41: 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bygott, J. D. 1972. Cannibalism among wild chimpanzees.Nature, 238: 410–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chapman, C.;Wrangham, R. W. 1993. Range use of the forest chimpanzees of Kibale: implications for the understanding of chimpanzee social organization.Amer. J. Primatol., 31: 263–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goodall, J. 1977. Infant-killing and cannibalism in free-living chimpanzees.Folia Primatol., 28: 259–282.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goodall, J. 1986.The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  8. Hamai, M.;Nishida, T.;Takasaki, H.;Turner, L. A. 1992. New records of within-group infanticide in wild chimpanzees.Primates, 33: 151–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M. 1992. Cannibalism among non-human primates. In:Cannibalism: Ecology and Evolution Among Diverse Taxa,Elgar,M. A.;Crespi,B. J. (eds.), Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, pp. 323–338.Google Scholar
  10. Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M.;Hasegawa, T., 1994. Infanticide in nonhuman primates: sexual selection and local resource competition. In:Infanticide and Parental Care,Parmigiani,S.;vom Saal,F. (eds.), Harwood Academic Publ., London, pp. 137–154.Google Scholar
  11. Hrdy, S. B. 1974. Male-male competition and infanticide among the langurs (Presbytis entellus) of Abu, Rajasthan.Folia Primatol., 22: 19–58.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Hrdy, S. B. 1977.The Langurs of Abu: Female and Male Strategies of Reproduction. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  13. Hrdy, S. B. 1981The Woman That Never Evolved. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  14. Isabirye-Basuta, G. 1989. The ecology and conservation status of the chimpanzeePan troglodytes schweinfurthii in Kibale Forest, Uganda. Ph.D. diss., Makerere Univ., Kampala, Uganda.Google Scholar
  15. Kawanaka, K. 1981. Infanticide and cannibalism in chimpanzees, with special reference to the newly observed case in the Mahale Mountains.Afr. Stud. Monogr., 1: 69–99.Google Scholar
  16. Manson, J.;Wrangham, R. W. 1991. Intergroup aggression in chimpanzees and humans.Curr. Anthropol., 32: 369–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Newton, P. N. 1988. The variable social organization of Hanuman langurs (Presbytis entellus), infanticide, and the monopolization of females.Int. J. Primatol. 9: 59–77.Google Scholar
  18. Nishida, T.;Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M. 1985. Responses to a stranger mother-son pair in the wild chimpanzee: a case report.Primates, 26: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nishida, T.;Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M.;Hasegawa, T.;Takahata, Y., 1985. Group extinction and femaletransfer in wild chimpanzees in the Mahale National Park, TanzaniaZ. Tierpsychol., 67: 284–301.Google Scholar
  20. Nishida, T.;Kawanaka, K. 1985. Within-group cannibalism by adult male chimpanzees.Primates 26: 274–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nishida, T.;Uehara, S.;Nyundo, R. 1979. Predatory behavior among wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains.Primates, 20: 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Norikoshi, K. 1982. One observed case of cannibalism among wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains.Primates, 23: 66–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pusey, A.;Williams, J.;Goodall, J. 1997. The influence of dominance rank on the reproductive success of female chimpanzees.Science, 277: 828–831.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pusey, A. E.;Packer, C. 1987. Dispersal and philopatry. In:Primate Societies,Smuts,B. B.;Cheney,D. L.;Seyfarth,R. M.;Wrangham,R. W.;Struhsaker,T. T. (eds.), Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, pp. 250–281.Google Scholar
  25. Pusey, A. E.;Packer, C. 1994. Infanticide in lions: consequences and counterstrategies. In:Infanticide and Parental Care,Parmigiani,S.;vom Saal,F. (eds.), Harwood Academic Publ., London, pp. 257–299.Google Scholar
  26. Sommer, V. 1994. Infanticide among the langurs of Jodhpur: testing the sexual selection hypothesis with a long-term record. In:Infanticide and Parental Care,Parmigiani,S.;vom Saal,F. (eds.), Harwood Academic Publ., London, pp. 155–198.Google Scholar
  27. Suzuki, A. 1971. Carnivority and cannibalism observed among forest-living chimpanzees.J. Anthropol. Soc. Nippon, 79: 30–48.Google Scholar
  28. Takahata, Y. 1985. Adult male chimpanzees kill and eat a male newborn infant: newly observed intra-group infanticide and cannibalism in Mahale Mountain National Park, Tanzania.Folia Primatol., 44: 161–170.Google Scholar
  29. Trivers, R. L. 1972. Parental investment and sexual selection. In:Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, 1971–1971,Campbell,B. (ed.), Aldine, Chicago, pp. 136–179.Google Scholar
  30. Tuomi, J.;Agrell, J.;Mappes, T. 1997. On the evolutionary stability of female infanticide.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 40: 227–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. de Waal, F. 1982.Chimpanzee Politics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  32. Watts, D. P. 1989. Infanticide in mountain gorillas: new cases and a reconsideration of the evidence.Ethology, 81: 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Watts, D. P. 1990. Ecology of mountain gorillas and its relation to female transfer in mountain gorillas.Int. J. Primatol., 11: 21–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wrangham, R. W. 1979. On the evolution of ape social systems.Social Sci. Information, 18(3): 335–368.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Clark Arcadi
    • 1
  • Richard W. Wrangham
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology/AnthropologyHofstra UniversityHempsteadUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations