New cases of intergroup violence among chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania

Michael L Wilson, William R. Wallauer, Anne E. Pusey

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88 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-549
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzania Commission on Science and Technology, and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute for permission to conduct research at Gombe. The Co-Directors of Field Research at Gombe, Shadrack Kamenya and Anthony Collins provided invaluable help. Many field workers provided data for this report, specifically: Deus Cyprian, Gabo Paulo, Tobias Paulo and Simon Yohana in Mitumba and Caroly Alberto, Yahaya Almasi, Iddi Issa, Juma Mazogo, Hamisi Mkono, and Selemani Yahaya in Kasekela. Bernard Kissui provided invaluable assistance in translating notes from Swahili. Dorothy Cheney, Craig Packer and Martha Tappen contributed helpful comments and discussion on wounding patterns caused by different predators. Lilian Pintea and Ian Gilby helped with obtaining GPS readings and determining the error of digitized map points. Ian Gilby, Becky Sun, David Watts and Richard Wrangham improved the manuscript with their insightful comments. We thank Magdalena Lukasik for permission to use the photo shown in Figure 6. This work was funded in part by the Jane Goodall Institute, the National Geographic Society, the College of Biological Sciences of the University of Minnesota, Milton Harris, and the Minnesota Base Camp.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chimpanzee
  • Coalitionary killing
  • Infanticide
  • Intergroup aggression


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