International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 523–549 | Cite as

New Cases of Intergroup Violence Among Chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania

  • Michael L. WilsonEmail author
  • William R. Wallauer
  • Anne E. Pusey


Despite considerable attention to chimpanzee intergroup violence, the number of observed cases remains small. We report 4 cases of intergroup violence that occurred in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, between 1993 and 2002. We observed (3 cases) or inferred (1 case) males from the Kasekela community to attack members of their 2 neighboring communities: Mitumba and Kalande. In 1993, Kasekela males killed and ate a female infant from Mitumba. In 1998, Kasekela males captured 2 infants (sex unknown) from Kalande, one of which escaped and the other was killed and eaten. Also in 1998, Kasekela males attacked an adolescent male from Kalande. The victim was alive but severely injured by the end of the attack. The intensity and duration of the attack are comparable to other attacks that resulted in fatal injuries. In 2002, observers found the body of an adolescent male from Mitumba following an incursion by Kasekela males into the area. The injuries inflicted on the Mitumba male together with circumstantial evidence suggest that Kasekela males killed him. The attacks support the view that intergroup violence is a persistent feature of chimpanzee societies and that the primary benefit attackers gain from them is reduced competition for resources.

chimpanzee intergroup aggression infanticide coalitionary killing 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, R. D. (1989). Evolution of the human psyche. In Mellars, P., and Stringer, C. (eds.), The Human Revolution, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 455–513.Google Scholar
  2. Altmann, J. (1974). Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behaviour 49: 227–267.Google Scholar
  3. Arcadi, A. C., and R. W. Wrangham (1999). Infanticide in chimpanzees: Review of cases and a new within-group observation from the Kanyawara study group in Kibale National Park. Primates 40(2): 337–351.Google Scholar
  4. Archer, J. (1988). The Behavioural Biology of Aggression, Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Boehm, C. (1992). Segmentary ‘warfare’and the management of conflict: Comparison of East African chimpanzees and patrilineal-patrilocal humans. In Harcourt, A. H., and de Waal, F. B. M. (eds.), Coalitions and Alliances in Humans and Other Animals, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 137–173.Google Scholar
  6. Boesch, C. (1991). The effects of leopard predation on grouping patterns in forest chimpanzees. Behaviour 117(3/4): 220–242.Google Scholar
  7. Boesch, C., and Boesch-Achermann, H. (2000). The Chimpanzees of the TaÏ Forest: Behavioral Ecology and Evolution, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  8. Boone, J. L. (1991). Comment on “Intergroup aggression in chimpanzees and humans”. Curr. Anthropol. 32(4): 377.Google Scholar
  9. Brain, C. K. (1981). The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  10. de Waal, F. B. M. (1989). Peacemaking Among Primates, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  11. Ewer, R. F. (1973). The Carnivores, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  12. Ferguson, R. B. (2001). Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war. Anthropol. Theory 1(1): 99–116.Google Scholar
  13. Goodall, J. (1977). Infant killing and cannibalism in free-living chimpanzees. Folia Primatol. 22: 259–282.Google Scholar
  14. Goodall, J. (1986). The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, Belknap, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  15. Greengrass, E. (2000). The sudden decline of a community of chimpanzees at Gombe National Park. Pan Afr. News 7(1).Google Scholar
  16. Hamai, M., Nishida, T., Takasaki, H., and Turner, L. (1992). New records of within-group infanticide and cannibalism in chimpanzees. Primates 33(2): 151–162.Google Scholar
  17. Herbinger, I., Boesch, C., and Rothe, H. (2001). Territory characteristics among three neighboring chimpanzee communities in the Tai National Park, Ivory Coast. Int. J. Primatol. 22(2): 143–167.Google Scholar
  18. Hill, K., Boesch, C., Goodall, J., Pusey, A. E., Williams, J. M., and Wrangham, R. W. (2001). Mortality rates among wild-living chimpanzees. J. Hum. Evol. 40: 437–450.Google Scholar
  19. Huntingford, F., and Turner, A. (1987). Animal Conflict, Chapman and Hall, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Jennrich, R. I., and Turner, F. B. (1969). Measurement of non-circular home range. J. Theor. Biol. 22: 227–237.Google Scholar
  21. Kingdon, J. S. (1977). East African Mammals, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  22. Kutsukake, N., and 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(4): 175–180.Google Scholar
  23. Lukasik, M. (2002). Gombe National Park Chimpanzee Post Mortem Report No. 3, Gombe Stream Research Centre: 3, Kigoma, Tanzania.Google Scholar
  24. Manson, J. H., and Wrangham, R. W. (1991). Intergroup aggression in chimpanzees and humans. Curr. Anthropol. 32(4): 369–390.Google Scholar
  25. Mitani, J. C., Watts, D. P., and Muller, M. N. (2002). Recent developments in the study of wild chimpanzee behavior. Evol. Anthropol. 11: 9–25.Google Scholar
  26. Muller, M. N. (2002). Agonistic relations among Kanyawara chimpanzees. In Boesch, C., Hohmann, G., and Marchant, L. F. (eds.), Behavioural Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 112–123.Google Scholar
  27. Newton-Fisher, N. E. (1999). Infant killers of Budongo. Folia Primatol. 70: 167–169.Google Scholar
  28. Nishida, T., Corp, N., Hamai, M., Hasegawa, T., Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M., Hosaka, K., Hunt, K. D., Itoh, N., Kawanaka, K., Matsumoto-Oda, A., Mitani, J. C., Nakamura, M., Norikoshi, K., Sakamaki, T., Turner, L., Uehara, S., and Zamma, K. (2003). Demography, female life history, and reproductive profiles among the chimpanzees of Mahale. Am. J. Primatol. 59(3): 99–121.Google Scholar
  29. Nishida, T., and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M. (1985). Responses to a stranger mother–son pair in the wild chimpanzee: A case report. Primates 26(1): 1–13.Google Scholar
  30. Nishida, T., Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M., Hasegawa, T., and Takahata, Y. (1985). Group extinction and female transfer in wild chimpanzees in the Mahale National Park, Tanzania. Z. Tierpsychol. 67: 284–301.Google Scholar
  31. Nishida, T., and Kawanaka, K. (1985). Within-group cannibalism by adult male chimpanzees. Primates 26(3): 274–284.Google Scholar
  32. Nishida, T., Uehara, S., and Nyundo, R. (1979). Predatory behavior among wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. Primates 20(1): 1–20.Google Scholar
  33. Otterbein, K. F. (1997). The origins of war. Crit. Rev. 11: 251–277.Google Scholar
  34. Pickering, T. R. (2001). Taphonomy of the Swartkrans hominid postcrania and its bearing on issues of meat-eating and fire management. In Stanford, C. B., and Bunn, H. T. (eds.), Meat-Eating and Human Evolution, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 33–51.Google Scholar
  35. Power, M. (1991). The Egalitarians–-Human and Chimpanzee: An Anthropological View of Social Organization, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  36. Pusey, A. E. (1978). The Physical and Social Development of Wild Adolescent Chimpanzees, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  37. Pusey, A. E. (2001). Of genes and apes: Chimpanzee social organization and reproduction. In de Waal, F. B. M. (ed.), Tree of Origin, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 9–38.Google Scholar
  38. Smith, R. M. (1977). Movement patterns and feeding behavior of the leopard in the Rhodes Matopos National Park, Rhodesia. Arnoldia 8: 1–16.Google Scholar
  39. Sussman, R. W. (1999). The myth of man the hunter, man the killer and the evolution of human morality (evolutionary and religious perspectives on morality). Zygon 34(3): 453–472.Google Scholar
  40. Takahata, Y. (1985). Adult male chimpanzees kill and eat a newborn infant: Newly observed intragroup infanticide and cannibalism in Mahale National Park, Tanzania. Folia Primatol. 44: 161–170.Google Scholar
  41. Takasaki, H. (1985). Female life history and mating patterns among the M group chimpanzees of the Mahale National Park, Tanzania. Primates 26(2): 121–129.Google Scholar
  42. van der Dennen, J. M. G. (1995). The Origin of War: The Evolution of a Male-Coalitional Reproductive Strategy. Origin Press, Groningen, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  43. van Hooff, J. A. R. A. M. (1990). Intergroup competition and conflict in animals and man. In van der Dennen, J. M. G., and Falger, V. S. E. (eds.), Sociobiology and Conflict: Evolutionary Perspectives on Competition, Cooperation, Violence and Warfare, Chapman and Hall, London, pp. 23–54.Google Scholar
  44. Wallis, J., and Lee, D. R. (1999). Primate conservation: The prevention of disease transmission. Int. J. Primatol. 20(6): 803–826.Google Scholar
  45. Watts, D. P., and Mitani, J. C. (2000). Infanticide and cannibalism by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Primates 41(4): 357–365.Google Scholar
  46. Watts, D. P., Mitani, J. C., and Sherrow, H. M. (2002). New cases of inter-community infanticide by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Primates 43(4): 263–270.Google Scholar
  47. Williams, J. M. (1999). Female strategies and the reasons for territoriality in chimpanzees: Lessons from three Decades of research at Gombe. In Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, 102 pp.Google Scholar
  48. Williams, J. M., Oehlert, G., and Pusey, A. E. (in press). Why do male chimpanzees defend a group range? Anim. Behav. Google Scholar
  49. Wilson, M. L., Hauser, M. D., and Wrangham, R. W. (2001). Does participation in intergroup conflict depend on numerical assessment, range location, or rank for wild chimpanzees? Anim. Behav. 61(6): 1203–1216.Google Scholar
  50. Wilson, M. L., and Wrangham, R. W. (2003). Intergroup relations in chimpanzees. In Durham, W. H. (ed.), Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 32, Annual Reviews, Palo Alto, CA, pp. 363–392.Google Scholar
  51. Wolf, K., and Schulman, S. R. (1984). Male response to “stranger” females as a function of female reproductive value among chimpanzees. Am. Nat. 123: 163–74.Google Scholar
  52. Wrangham, R. W. (1979). Sex differences in chimpanzee dispersion. In Hamburg, D. A., and McCown, E. R. (eds.), The Great Apes, Benjamin-Cummings: Menlo Park, CA, pp. 481–489.Google Scholar
  53. Wrangham, R. W. (1999). The evolution of coalitionary killing. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 42: 1–30.Google Scholar
  54. Wrangham, R. W., and Peterson, D. (1996). Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  55. Wrangham, R. W., and Smuts, B. B. (1980). Sex differences in the behavioural ecology of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania. J. Reprod. Fert. (Suppl.) 28: 13–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • William R. Wallauer
    • 2
  • Anne E. Pusey
    • 1
  1. 1.The Jane Goodall Institute's Center for Primate Studies and Department of Ecology, Evolution and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaUSA
  2. 2.Gombe Stream Research CentreKigomaTanzania

Personalised recommendations