Skip to main content
Log in

Reconciliation and post-conflict third-party affiliation among wild chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Primates Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This study investigated post-conflict (PC) behavior among wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) of the M-group in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania, and examined what types of behavior characterize the PC situation in this group, and the factors that influence the occurrence of PC affiliation between opponents soon after the end of an aggressive conflict (i.e., reconciliation). We found that the opponents affiliated selectively soon after the end of aggression, suggesting that reconciliation occurred in this group. The mean individual corrected conciliatory tendency (CCT) (Veenema et al. 1994 in Behav Proc 31:29–38) was 14.4%, which is similar to or lower than frequencies observed in studies of captive and wild chimpanzees. The valuable relationship hypothesis predicts that the CCT is higher among individuals who share valuable relationships (e.g., males or affiliative dyads) than among individuals who do not (e.g., females or less-associative dyads). However, the analysis based on data for aggression between unrelated individuals (including one incident between an adult and non-adult) and aggression between unrelated adults, did not uncover this difference. Affiliation by a previously uninvolved individual with the victim (“consolation”) and with the aggressor (“appeasement”) occurred more frequently following aggression than in the control condition. The results are compared with previous studies of captive and wild chimpanzees.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2a, b

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227–265

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Arnold K, Whiten A (2001) Post-conflict behaviour of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Budongo Forest, Uganda. Behaviour 138:649–690

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aureli F, de Waal FBM (2000) Natural conflict resolution. University of California Press, California

  • Aureli F, van Schaik CP, van Hooff JARAM (1989) Functional aspects of reconciliation among captive long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). Am J Primatol 19:39–51

    Google Scholar 

  • Aureli F, Cords M, van Schaik CP (2002) Conflict resolution following aggression in gregarious animals: a predictive framework. Anim Behav 64:325–343

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baker KC, Smuts BB (1994) Social relationships of female chimpanzees: diversity between captive social groups. In: Wrangham WW, McGrew WC, de Waal FBM, Heltne PG (eds) Chimpanzee cultures. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., pp 227–242

  • Boesch C, Hohmann G, Marchant LF (2002) Behavioural diversity in chimpanzees and bonobos. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK

  • Cairns S, Schwager SJ (1987) A comparison of association indices. Anim Behav 35:1454–1469

    Google Scholar 

  • Call J, Aureli F, de Waal FBM (2002) Postconflict third-party affiliation in stumptailed macaques. Anim Behav 63:209–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Castles DL, Aureli F, de Waal FBM (1996) Variation in conciliatory tendency and relationship quality across groups of pigtail macaques. Anim Behav 52:389–403

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cords M (1997) Friendship, alliances, reciprocity, and repair. In: Whiten A, Byrne R (eds) Machiavellian intelligence II: evaluations and extensions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 24–49

  • Cords M, Aureli F (1993) Pattern of reconciliation among juvenile long-tailed macaques. In: Pereira ME, Fairbanks LA (eds) Juvenile primates—life history, development, and behaviour. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 271–284

  • Cords M, Aureli F (2000) Reconciliation and relationship quality. In: Aureli F, de Waal FBM (eds) Natural conflict resolution. University of California Press, California, pp 177–198

  • Das M (2000) Conflict management via third parties: post-conflict affiliation of the aggressor. In: Aureli F, de Waal FBM (eds) Natural conflict resolution. University of California Press, California, pp 263–280

  • Fuentes A, Malone N, Sanz C, Matheson M, Vaughan L (2002) Conflict and post-conflict behavior in a small group of chimpanzees. Primates 43:223–236

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Goodall J (1986) The chimpanzees of Gombe: patterns of behaviour. Belknap, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Kappeler PM, van Schaik CP (1992) Methodological and evolutionary aspects of reconciliation among primates. Ethology 92:51–69

    Google Scholar 

  • Kutsukake N (2003) Assessing relationship quality and social anxiety among wild chimpanzees using self-directed behaviour. Behaviour 140:1153–1171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kutsukake N, Castles DL (2001) Reconciliation and variation in post-conflict stress in Japanese macaques (Maraca fuscata fuscata): testing the integrated hypothesis. Anim Cog 4: 259–268

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kutsukake N, Matsusaka T (2002) Incident of intense aggression by chimpanzees against an infant from another group in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Am J Primatol 58:175–180

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Matsumura S (1996) Postconflict affiliative contacts between former opponents among wild moor macaques (Macaca maurus). Am J Primatol 38:211–219

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Muller MN (2002) Agonistic relations among Kanyawara chimpanzees. In: Boesch C, Hohmann G, Marchant LF (eds) Behavioural diversity in chimpanzees and bonobos. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 112–124

  • Newton-Fisher NE (1999) Association by male chimpanzees: a social tactic? Behaviour 136:705–730

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nishida T (1990) The chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains: sexual and life history strategies. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Nishida T, Corp N, Hamai M, Hasegawa T, Hiraiwa-Hasegawa M, Hosaka K, Hunt KD, Itoh N, Kawanaka K, Matsumoto-Oda A, Mitani JC, Nakamura M, Norikoshi K, Sakamaki T, Turner L, Uehara S, Zamma K (2003) Demography, female life history, and reproductive profiles among the chimpanzees of Mahale. Am J Primatol 59:99–121

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Preuschoft S, Wang X, Aureli F, de Waal FBM (2002) Reconciliation in captive chimpanzees: a reevalution with control methods. Int J Primatol 23:29–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sommer V, Denham A, Little K (2002) Postconflict bahaviour of wild Indian langur monkeys: avoidance of opponents but rarely affinity. Anim Behav 63:637–648

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Veenema HC, Das M, Aureli F (1994) Methodological improvements for the study of reconciliation. Behav Process 31:29–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • de Waal FBM (1986) The integration of dominance and social bonding in primates. Q Rev Biol 61:459–479

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • de Waal FBM (2000) Primates: a natural heritage of conflict resolution. Science 289:586–590

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • de Waal FBM, Aureli F (1996) Consolation, reconciliation, and a possible cognitive difference between macaques and chimpanzees. In: Russon AE, Bard KA, Parker ST (eds) Reaching into thought: the minds of the great apes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 80–110

  • de Waal FBM, Ren R (1988) Comparison of the reconciliation behavior of stumptail and rhesus macaques. Ethology 78:129–142

    Google Scholar 

  • de Waal FBM, van Roosmalen A (1979) Reconciliation and consolation among chimpanzees. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 5:55–66

    Google Scholar 

  • de Waal FBM, Yoshihara D (1983) Reconciliation and redirected affection in rhesus monkeys. Behaviour 85:224–241

    Google Scholar 

  • Watts DP, Colmenares F, Arnold K (2000) Redirection, consolation, and male policing: how targets of aggression interact with bystanders. In: Aureli F, de Waal FBM (eds) Natural conflict resolution. University of California Press, California, pp 281–301

  • Wittig RM, Boesch C (2003) “Decision-making” in conflicts of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): an extension of the relational model. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:491–504

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology, the Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute, the Mahale Mountains Wildlife Research Centre, and Tanzania National Parks for permitting this research and for support while N.K. was in Tanzania. N.K. would also like to thank Toshisada Nishida, Kenji Kawanaka, Shigeo Uehara, Kazuhiko Hosaka, Michio Nakamura, Shiho Fujita, James Wakibara, Takahisa Matsusaka, and Watongwe research assistants, as well as other colleagues of the research team including Chisa Tokimatsu, for their support in various ways. N.K. would like to thank Toshikazu Hasegawa for supervision and support over the course of this study, Keiko Fujisawa for helpful discussions, Roman M. Wittig for sharing information, reviewers for important comments, as well as Toshimichi Nemoto and his family for their support. This study was financially supported by the Monbusho Scientific Research Fund (Basic Research A1, No. 12375003 to T. Nishida) and JSPS Research Fellowships for Young Scientists (to N.K.).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nobuyuki Kutsukake.

About this article

Cite this article

Kutsukake, N., Castles, D.L. Reconciliation and post-conflict third-party affiliation among wild chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. Primates 45, 157–165 (2004).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: