The leader of a group of wild chimpanzees was recently attacked by four of his subordinates, those who joined forces to win a battle to death. It is rare that chimps kill their alpha male – This event offers a rare view of the structure of the group in our closest relatives.
As of the year 2007, PIMU proclaimed alpha male of a group of chimpanzees who live near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. His Government had a violent end in October of the 2011 – the moment was captured on video. Stefano Kaburu from the University of Kent at Canterbury, United Kingdom, and his colleagues investigated the incident and conducted an autopsy the body of Pimu (American Journal of Primatology , DOI.org/kn4).
The attack came a day after Pimu had started a fight with the male of the second rank. This chimpanzé fled, while four others attacked Pimu, biting her hands and feet.
It is rare that chimps kill their alpha male but it happens, says Michael Wilson, at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “There was a previous case in Gombe”.
Wilson says that chimpanzee males compete for access to a small number of females, so they have an incentive to kill each other. But at times rival groups attack, so they also have reason to keep his fellow males so they support. It's a trade off. Kaburu says Pimu Group had close neighbours, so other males may have been less concerned about external threats.
This article appeared in the press under the title of “Chimp leader murdered by the gang of henchmen”
(Image: Jennifer Scott)