It’s a wild time for the animal kingdom! For many years, gorillas and Chimpanzees have lived peacefully together. But in February 2019, researchers were shocked when they witnessed a brutal act of violence at Gabon’s Loango National Park.
Researchers from Osnabruck University in Germany and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany were studying the behavior of chimpanzees within the national park.
They observed that more than 20 chimpanzees attacked five western lowland gorillas unprovoked (one silverback and three adult females, and one infant). The infant gorilla was killed in a fight that lasted nearly an hour between the two groups.
Even more shocking was the fact that the same traumatizing incident occurred in December 2012 in the same Central African park. Seven gorillas were killed and 27 chimpanzees faced off against seven others in a fight that lasted approximately 79 minutes.
It is not clear if the same chimpanzees were involved in the second incident. The question of the cause of these vicious attacks is still open. Let’s look at the rich history of these two species and their relationship to get to the bottom.
It can be confusing to know the difference between gorillas, chimpanzees, and primates. There is so much terminology available. Let’s be clear. Both chimpanzees and gorillas are primates. This biological order includes humans.
Although Gorillas are among the largest primates alive, don’t let this fool you. These giants are often known as “gentle giants” because they live in small groups and can move around freely.
Silverback, an adult male gorilla leads the pack. The subspecies of western lowland gorillas are subspecies that live in the Central African tropical rainforests, which includes Loango National Park. Adult males from this area can reach 6 feet in height and weigh on average 300 pounds. Adult females can stand up to 4.5ft tall and weigh between 150-200 pounds on average.
Chimpanzees aren’t much different. They occupy a lot of Africa’s tropical jungles, including Loango. They eat similar foods such as fruits, insects, plants. Standing straight up, chimps can reach a height of 3 to 5 feet. Females can weigh 110 pounds while males can swell to 154 pounds.
However, chimpanzees are more violent than their peaceful primate relatives. Male chimpanzees have been known to attack each other over territorial disputes.
Research shows that chimpanzees are predisposed toward murder, with chimps often attacking each other over territorial disputes. One explanation could be that more territory means more food and resources, which may explain why some regions are less populated.
However, the majority of aggression displayed by chimpanzees is directed at their own species. The commonalities between chimpanzees and gorillas have meant that the two primate species have shared territory, food, and other resources for many years.
Simone Pika, Osnabruck University cognitive biologist, said that the two species have been observed playing and foraging together in peaceful interactions. The brutal attacks in 2019 show that tension is growing between the two species.
Sharing is caring, and many animals in the animal kingdom believe that. What happens when your livelihood is at risk?
Researchers have found that violence may have been driven by competition for limited resources, according to a new study. Climate change and the decrease in the availability of fruit in Loango may have triggered the vicious acts.
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