Male-male relationships among wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba, Republic of Zaire

Abstract

Male-male relationships among wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) in two adjacent unitgroups (E1 and E2 groups), which were formed by division of the E group, were studied at Wamba, in the Central Zaire Basin, by analyzing the proximity and social interactions among males. Dominant-subordinate relationships between a male-male dyad were easily recognized from the directions of individual agonistic interactions. Male bonobos rarely joined forces in aggression. Clear differences in social status existed between adult and adolescent male bonobos in both groups, as reported in the case of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). The presence of mothers in the unit-group greatly influenced the dominant-subordinate relationships among males through strong mother-son bonds in both groups. However, the extent of the mother-son bonds differed between the groups. Males in the E2 group participated more frequently in agonistic or affinitive interactions than did males in the E1 group. Males in the E1 group were divided spatially into several clusters, while there were cohesive relationships among the adult males in the E2 group. The difference in intensities of mother-son bonds between the groups may be explained by the distribution of males at the time of the division of the E group. Differences in male-male relationships between bonobos and chimpanzees seem to be related to differences in intra- and inter-unit-group competition among males between the two species. Male chimpanzees may achieve coexistence by manipulating ambivalent relationships that are caused by intra- and inter-unit-group competition among them, while male bonobos may achieve coexistence by decreasing intra- and inter-unit-group competition among them.

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Ihobe, H. Male-male relationships among wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba, Republic of Zaire. Primates 33, 163–179 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02382747

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Key Words

  • Pan paniscus
  • Male-male relationships
  • Mother-son bonds
  • Male cohesiveness
  • Intergroup difference