Chimp Leader Killed, Eaten by His Former Subjects

It's a very rare occurrence of chimps killing in their own community
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2017 5:15 PM CST

It was already a rare occurrence when a group of chimpanzees murdered one of their own—and then they started eating the body. In a study published last week in the International Journal of Primatology, researchers recount only the ninth recorded murder of a chimp by its own community. In 2007, Foudouko was the leader of a group of more than 30 chimps in Senegal, National Geographic reports. He was nicknamed "Saddam," and anthropologist Jill Pruetz tells New Scientist he was "somewhat of a tyrant." But Foudouko was overthrown and exiled for years, living on the edges of his former community. Then in 2013, he was killed by a group of younger males. The violence didn't stop there.

The community spent nearly four hours brutalizing Foudouko's body, according to a press release. They broke his bones, beat him with rocks, ripped at his body, and ate parts of him. Pruetz says she was "really disturbed" for days after watching video of the incident. Humans may ultimately be responsible for the rare and gruesome violence that befell Foudouko. His community has nearly twice as many male chimps as females, likely due to poachers targeting female chimps. This increases tensions in the community, and Foudouko may have been killed for approaching a female in heat. Horrifying as the incident may have been, one expert says it can help us better understand how chimp societies function. (A lonely, deer-humping monkey shocked scientists and the internet.)

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