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Infanticide and cannibalism by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda

Abstract

Researchers have documented infanticide by adult males in four wild chimpanzee populations. Males in three of these have killed infants from outside of their own communities, but most infanticides, including one from Kanyawara, in Kibale National Park, Uganda, took place within communities. Here we report two new cases of infanticide by male chimpanzees at a second Kibale site, Ngogo, where the recently habituated chimpanzee community is the largest yet known. Both infanticides happended during boundary patrols, which occur at a high frequency there. Patrolling males attacked solitary females who were unable to defend their infants successfully. The victims were almost certainly not members of the Ngogo community. Males cannibalized both infants and completely consumed their carcasses. These observations show that infanticide by males is widespread in the Kibale population and that between-community infanticide also happens there. We discuss our observations in the context of the sexual selection hypothesis and other proposed explanations for infanticide by male chimpanzees. The observations support the arguments that infanticide has been an important selective force in chimpanzee social evolution and that females with dependent infants can be at great risk near range boundaries, but why male chimpanzees kill infants is still uncertain.

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Watts, D.P., Mitani, J.C. Infanticide and cannibalism by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Primates 41, 357–365 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02557646

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Key Words

  • Chimpanzees
  • Infanticide
  • Cannibalism
  • Boundary patrols