Warning: Distressing Content
In a rare killing, a murdered chimpanzee was filmed beaten, bloodied and partially cannibalized by members of his former social group.
The murder victim, a West African chimpanzee called Foudouko, had been beaten with rocks and sticks.
While chimpanzees are known to kill rivals from other tribes, this is one of just nine known cases where a group of chimpanzees has killed one of their own adult males.
Researchers found the gruesome scene in Senegal in 2013 and recently described the incident in the International Journal of Primatology.
“It was incredibly hard to watch,” says study co-author Jill Pruetz, an Iowa State University anthropologist and National Geographic Society grantee. “I was really disturbed for about three days [afterward], as if you had a falling-out with a friend.”
Back in 2007, Foudouko was the leader of more than 30 western chimpanzees in southeastern Senegal.
As alpha male, he was ‘somewhat of a tyrant’, Pruetz told New Scientist. But eventually, he was ousted by the others and banished to Fongoli’s outskirts — the start of a five-year exile that ended with his death.
With low prospective for finding a mate, Foudouko rejoined the group. But while alpha-male David and beta Mamadou welcomed him back, the young males who had once been under his rule were far less sympathetic and regularly chased Foudouko out of the community.
The researchers say Foudouko was trying to rise back up to power in what they called a ‘foolish’ move.