Infant killing and cannibalism in free-living chimpanzees

Folia Primatol (Basel). 1977;28(4):259-89. doi: 10.1159/000155817.


Male chimpanzees at the Gombe National Park were twice seen to attack 'stranger' females and seize their infants. One infant was then killed and partially eaten: the other was 'rescued' and carried by three different males. Once several males were found eating a freshly killed 'stranger' infant. A similar event was observed in Uganda by Dr. Suzuki and Dr. Nishida reports an incident from the Mahali Mountains, Tanzania. A different kind of killing occurred at Gombe when a female and her daughter killed and ate three infants of other females of the same community during a 2-year period. There is evidence suggesting that other infants may have died in this way. The paper draws attention to puzzling aspects of infant killing and cannibalism in chimpanzees.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • Cannibalism*
  • Female
  • Grooming
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pan troglodytes*