In some populations, chimpanzees engage in lethal aggression within and between social units. We report a fatal attack on an adult male chimpanzee at a new research site in Loango National Park, Gabon. We found a fresh corpse of an adult male chimpanzee only a few hundred meters from the research camp, after noting numerous vocalizations and chimpanzee movements the previous evening. Previous contacts with chimpanzees and fresh tracks in the area around the corpse suggest that 2 communities of chimpanzees range where the attack occurred and that members of the neighboring community killed the chimpanzee. To support the conclusion, we conducted genetic analysis for 13 Y-chromosome loci and 9 microsatellite loci of fecal samples from the dead individual, 5 possible attackers, and 2 members of the other community Though we cannot exclude the possibility of an intracommunity killing, the combined observational and genetic evidence suggest an intercommunity attack. The case study adds to the growing evidence that intercommunity killings are a rare but widespread phenomenon among chimpanzees and not an artifact of human provisioning or habituation.
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We thank the Conseil National des Parcs Nationaux of Gabon for permission to conduct our research in Loango National Park. The project is a collaboration among and financially supported by Société pour la Conservation et le Développement (SCD), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Max Planck Society. We thank Rombout Swanborn, Tomo Nishihara, and Edward Tutter for their logistical support and Loïc Mackaga and Aimé Relonga for their invaluable tracking assistance in the forest.
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Boesch, C., Head, J., Tagg, N. et al. Fatal Chimpanzee Attack in Loango National Park, Gabon. Int J Primatol 28, 1025–1034 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-007-9201-1
- fatal attack
- intergroup conflict