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Sighting of the Quarter


During Pierre's recent visit to Rwanda he had the privilege of spending an hour with a troop of chimpanzees in the Cyamudongo region of Nyungwe National Park. Chimps tend to be quite boisterous and animated, and disputes can quickly turn violent. Pierre was treated to a glimpse of the intensity of chimp emotions during an exchange between two males:

"The recently deposed alpha male took up a prominent position on a tree branch in the middle of the troop of roughly 40 chimps that were foraging in the surrounding forest, and started vocalizing loudly. The rest of the troop fell silent. Within seconds the new alpha male came swinging to the branch and strode aggressively towards his challenger. The old leader turned to face his nemesis, and the two apes moved menacingly towards each other in a crouched position. All hell seemed about to break loose.


Then, at the last second, the deposed leader's expression turned submissive, and he backed down. His successor continued his march towards the challenger, then turned around and sat down with his back towards him. In a show of deference and submission, the old leader then proceeded to groom the alpha male, and harmony was restored.

As if to put an exclamation point on his reconfirmed status as leader, the recently groomed alpha male then proceeded to mate with a nearby female who was in estrus. In the space of about two minutes, it occurred to me that I had witnessed enough action and drama to fill three episodes of Game of Thrones – life happens fast and furiously for chimpanzees!"

Click Here to see more photos from Pierre's reconnaissance trip to Rwanda and Botswana.

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