Experts observing dozens of chimps at Loango National Park in Gabon had anticipated them to be relaxed round gorillas.
But whereas the two species have been normally playful, the researchers have been shocked to witness occasional vicious attacks.
“At first, we only noticed screams of chimpanzees and thought we were observing a typical encounter between individuals of neighboring chimpanzee communities,” mentioned Lara M. Southern, the research’s lead writer, in a press launch.
“But then, we heard chest beats, a display characteristic for gorillas, and realized that the chimpanzees had encountered a group of five gorillas,” she added, referencing the first assault the crew noticed, in 2019.
The two encounters they recorded, which lasted 52 and 79 minutes, noticed the chimpanzees type coalitions and launch attacks on the gorillas.
The silverback and grownup females gorillas defended themselves and their offspring. Both silverbacks and several other grownup females escaped, however two gorilla infants have been separated from their moms and killed, the authors wrote.
“Our observations provide the first evidence that the presence of chimpanzees can have a lethal impact on gorillas. We now want to investigate the factors triggering these surprisingly aggressive interactions,” mentioned Tobias Deschner, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
The attacks have been notably shocking given the method the two teams of animals had behaved beforehand. “Interactions between chimpanzees and gorillas have so far been considered as relatively relaxed,” mentioned Simone Pika, a cognitive biologist at Osnabrück University.
“We have regularly observed both species interacting peacefully in foraging trees. Our colleagues from Congo even witnessed playful interactions between the two great ape species,” Pika mentioned.
Around 45 chimps have been being noticed for the research, which meant to investigate their relationships, use of instruments, communication and looking expertise, amongst different traits.
The authors urged that pooling meals with different species may have triggered the flare-ups. “It could be that sharing of food resources by chimpanzees, gorillas and forest elephants in the Loango National Park result in increased competition and sometimes even in lethal interactions between the two great ape species,” Deschner mentioned.
Loango National Park is a sprawling protected space on Gabon’s coast in western sub-Saharan Africa. It is dwelling to elephants, buffalo and various different species.
The area is dwelling to the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species.
Chimpanzees are an endangered species, in keeping with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.