In a first of its kind, chimpanzees were seen attacking and eating gorillas in the Loango national park in Gabon.
The disputes between the chimpanzees and the gorillas involved two encounters lasting around one hour each. In the first, a gorilla infant was killed, but there was no evidence it was eaten. In the second, however, another gorilla infant was killed and almost entirely consumed by a chimpanzee female adult.
According to the study, this is believed to be a phenomenon called intraguild predation (IGP), in which species that usually share finite resources kill and eat each other in order to eliminate competition. The two encounters were indeed recorded at a time in which food was scarce, which would be a problem for the two species as their diets tend to overlap greatly.
“We are only at the beginning of understanding the effects competition has on the two ape species in Loango,” Pika, a professor at the Max Planck Institute, told Walla. “Our research shows that there is still much to study and discover about our closest relatives and that Loango National Park with its unique habitat is the place to do it.”