A research team from Osnabrück and Leipzig has observed for the first time deadly attacks by chimpanzees on gorillas in the wild. At the events, two baby gorillas were snatched from their mothers and killed.
“The interactions between chimpanzees and gorillas were considered relaxed until now,” said this Monday (07/19/2021) the behavioral biologist from Osnabrück Simone Pika. “We have regularly observed both species peacefully in the trees to feed and our colleagues in the Congo have even witnessed joint games between chimpanzees and gorillas,” he added.
The research results have been published in the magazine Scientific reports.
Investigate the reasons for these surprising interactions
The team from the University of Osnabrück and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig is investigating the behavior of about 45 chimpanzees in the Loango National Park (Gabon). Leipzig primatologist Tobias Deschner explained: “Now we want to investigate what are the reasons for these surprisingly aggressive interactions.”
There are several possible explanations, he said. Kills between different species can be interpreted as hunting behavior or as competition for food, Deschner said. The decline in the productivity of the rainforest due to climate change could also be the cause.
PhD student and first author of the study, Lara M. Southern, reported that chimpanzees attacked a group of gorillas.
FEW (EPD, Max Planck Society, Scientific reports)