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A case of intercommunity lethal aggression by chimpanzees in an open and dry landscape, Issa Valley, western Tanzania

Drummond-Clarke, RC, Fryns, C, Stewart, FA and Piel, AK (2023) A case of intercommunity lethal aggression by chimpanzees in an open and dry landscape, Issa Valley, western Tanzania. Primates, 64 (6). pp. 599-608. ISSN 0032-8332

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Intercommunity (lethal) aggression is a familiar component of the behavioural repertoire of many forest-dwelling chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) communities. However, until now, the absence of intercommunity attacks – including killings – in communities that live in open, mosaic environments has supported hypotheses of reduced resource competition in drier habitats, and informed referential models of early hominin social dynamics in a similar habitat. In June 2020, we observed the first instance of intercommunity lethal aggression, a male-committed infanticide, by the Issa chimpanzee community, which live in a savannah-mosaic habitat in the Issa Valley, western Tanzania. The carcass was recovered by researchers after it was abandoned by the attackers. Here, we give a detailed account of the events leading up to and including the infanticide, and contextualise our observations with what has been described for other chimpanzee communities. Notably, in contrast to the majority of reported intercommunity infanticides, the infant male victim was castrated (and not cannibalised), making this the youngest reported castration. This observation of intercommunity aggression disproves its hypothesised absence in savannah-dwelling chimpanzees, which by extension, has implications for early hominin evolution. We suggest that the near absence of observations of intercommunity aggression in savannah chimpanzee communities is most likely due to the lack of long-term study communities, and in some cases geographic isolation. We hypothesise that food-rich areas within a habitat with otherwise widely distributed food sources may select for intense intercommunity aggression despite the low population density characteristic of savannah communities. Anecdotes such as this add to the comparative database available on intercommunity killings in chimpanzee society, improving our ability to draw inferences about their evolutionary significance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals; Hominidae; Pan troglodytes; Aggression; Ecosystem; Tanzania; Male; Great ape; Infanticide; Resource competition; Savannah; Violence; Xenophobia; Male; Animals; Pan troglodytes; Tanzania; Aggression; Hominidae; Ecosystem; 0603 Evolutionary Biology; 0608 Zoology; Behavioral Science & Comparative Psychology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Springer
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2024 14:40
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2024 14:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s10329-023-01085-6
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22815
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