The first sightings of deadly attacks by chimpanzees against gorillas have been reported. While this proves that our close relatives can pose a danger to people who have removed something more genetically, a paper in the scientific report suggests that the ultimate cause may be ours. Luango National Park is home to both chimpanzees in Gabon and gorillas in the western lowlands. For 16 years it has also included the Luango Chimpanzee Project, a study of the relationship between and between Chimpanzee armies.
Chimpanzees are certainly like most large-scale (human-side) battles but most of the time the project has been observing them as they took their violent side on others or small creatures of their species. Long-term monitoring efforts have seen the same thing elsewhere. Professor Simone Pika of Osnabrück University said in a statement, “Interaction between chimpanzees and gorillas is still considered relatively relaxed.” “We have seen the two species interact peacefully on a regular basis in tree pastures. Our colleagues from the Congo have even witnessed sporting interactions between these two Mahapur species.”
That all changed two years ago when Osnabrück student Lara Southern and colleagues heard screams involving a friendly fight between two chimpanzee armies. “Then, we heard a chest beat, a display feature for the gorillas, and realized that the chimpanzees faced a group of five gorillas,” Southern said. The fight lasted 52 minutes. The members of the project faced a long battle 10 months later. In both cases, the chimpanzees used a number of weights (from 27 to 5 and, respectively) to fight the gorilla’s considerable size advantage.
The first battle involved some aggression on both sides, but in the second the chimpanzee gorillas followed the trees above and attacked them while trying to escape over the camp and on the ground. Each time the adult gorilla eventually moves away but a child dies separated from its mother, three chimpanzees were injured in the first battle. West African chimpanzees have been found to be less ferocious towards members of their own species than their East African counterparts, but Southern IFLScience has recently shown its team
Luango; “Annual intergroup homicide rates were the highest across all sites.”
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