Intergroup conflicts among chimpanzees in Taï National Park: lethal violence and the female perspective



Intercommunity aggression in chimpanzees and primitive warfare in humans possess striking similarities, such as the common occurrence of large male coalitions, systematic control of territory boundaries, and lethal attacks on isolated individuals from neighboring groups. However, an important apparent contrast is the absence of recurrent peaceful interactions between neighboring groups of chimpanzees. We observed a remarkable range of behavior in intergroup encounters among three habituated communities of chimpanzees in Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire. Lethal attacks are documented in these study groups for the first time, as well as year-long exchanges of parous adult females and peaceful intergroup visits of mothers with infants. Demographic factors, including group size and number of adult males, are shown to affect the nature of intergroup interactions in ways not considered previously. A reconsideration of the difference in intergroup interactions between eastern and western chimpanzees is proposed including a more important consideration of the female's perspective. The inclusion of the new complexities in intergroup interactions in chimpanzees allows new parallels to be drawn with the evolution of primitive warfare in humans. Am. J. Primatol. 70:519–532, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.