Chimpanzees Kill Ten People in War Zone

A chimpanzee steals a dead bushbuck from a baboon. Ikiwaner/Creative Commons

An excellent article about recent chimpanzee attacks in the Congo. It explains important factors news articles often miss, including the economic necessity that brings people into conflict with chimps; the impact of war between humans; and the difficulty of verifying animal attacks. 

Amid armed conflict, Congolese villagers face chimpanzee attacks | The Observers


  • One resident said: “There isn’t a month that goes by without someone being killed by a chimpanzee”. 
  • 17 people who have been wounded by chimps
  • 10 people who have been killed over “the past few months”



19 comments:

  1. Scary, but sad. I don´t know if you watch anime, but there's a movie by Hayao Miyazaki called Mononoke Hime which I'm reminded of by your last two posts; in it, the forest is being destroyed by humans so they can extract iron and other stuff from the mountains; the different kinds of animals react to the situation in different ways. The wolves actively avoid people whenever possible; the wild boars declare war on the humans (which doesn´t end well for them unfortunately) and the apes desperately attempt to bring the forest back by visiting the cleared areas at night and planting new trees.

    Maybe these real life chimpanzees went for the wild boar approach...

    Also, it is interesting what they say about the villagers wanting gorillas dead so that "life will be easier" for people crossing the forest. I guess this means the gorillas did attack people too? I remember reading once about a male gorilla that had developed a habit of attacking villages and had killed several people already...do you remember this by any chance?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't recall where I ran across the incident Croconut refers to, but it seems to me I've heard of it too. Allowing for local exaggeration or mistakes or murder disguised to look like an animal attack, it would not altogether surprise me if a gorilla who had seen his troop attacked by humans chose to take out whatever rage and grief--emotions which we know great apes to be capable of feeling, and only those with strong investment in the notion that man is utterly unique would deny--on any human that crossed his path.

    If Bigfoot ever turns out to be real, I hope he's a little more laid-back than his smaller cousins. Of course, if we want to discuss cryptozoology, there are quoted instances of Sasquatch behaving aggressively and occasional tales of fatalities attributed to the creatures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm a big fan of Miyazake--great artist, great filmmaker. That image of the boar composed of slugs has really stayed with me.

    I think the chimp attacks are mostly predation. I say that because of the description of a toddler snatched from her mother and the photos showing children with injuries. Chimps seem to see human children as being in the range of suitable prey; toddlers and infants are roughly the size of baboons, which they also eat. This behavior (snatching children as food) has been known for decades. What seems different here is simply the frequency. And I think we can blame that on increasing human incursions into the forest for food. Chimps have more opportunity to prey on humans, and they are competing with humans for other food. In my view, it's simply a matter of food on both sides.

    I'm not sure what to make of that remark about the gorillas. It seems clear that the authorities discounted any claims of the gorillas launching unprovoked attacks. I don't really see why gorillas would make life difficult for poachers, since many other animals in the area are more formidable and more aggressive. It's fairly hard to get attacked by a gorilla without directly assaulting its family. Gorillas seem incapable of stealth hunting; their attacks are always, so far as I know, preceded by threat displays. That being the case, they are unlikely to be a serious danger to an armed poacher.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't know about the aggressive gorilla you guys are recalling, but I'm skeptical. As this article mentions, people don't always tell the truth about these things. Looking into older books, I sometimes come across stories of "gorilla" attacks that are pretty clearly attributable to chimpanzees. Perhaps some similar mistake or translation error is in play here.

    Among cryptid lovers, there's considerable disagreement about the aggressive habits of sasquatches. Some will tell you the attack stories are pretty dubious. Personally I'm skeptical even about the existence of such a species, though I find the question interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wasn´t there a report by Roosevelt, I think, about a bigfoot that broke a man's neck near a camp fire, after being attracted by either the light of the smell of roasting meat? (Even tho others say its a vegetarian...)

    But yeah, I've always been skeptical about the big guys' existence too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know this Roosevelt story. Sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The reason, ironically, I tend to at least entertain the notion of gorillas behaving aggressively--though as anyone acquainted with primates will readily concur, chimps are as a rule more belligerent than gorillas, and language is a funny thing even when people are honest--is due to what I've come to call "the wolf syndrome." In our attempts to downplay the myth of the Big Bad Wolf, the evil, child-stealing hellhound that prowls on the edge of the forest, and advocate for the preservation of a species that is well worth preserving, we ignore the fact that wolves don't give a rat's ass that we have all sorts of symbolic mystique wrapped up in them; that they're large, powerful, superbly adapted carnivores and that an unarmed human, even an adult in their physical prime, is a much softer target than an elk, moose or even a deer.

    Gorillas are, of course, not King Kong or the violent, carnivorous apes of Edgar Rice Burroughs' literary ravings. But they're formidable antagonists with Herculean strength and fearsome dentition; coupled with this, they have an intellect and emotional makeup recognizably like our own. And while most gorillas probably would prefer to do a quick fade rather than fight, if possible, all animals--especially large, brainy animals--are individuals with their own quirks and personalities. Young bull elephants are known to become dangerously psychotic if traumatized as young animals; why could not a similar thing happen with a gorilla?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree there. I've gone on and on about the wolf thing for ages.

      Delete
    2. James, I agree with you up to a point; we can't simply accept stereotypes of animal behavior. It's when we move from "possible" to believing a particular report that I lose faith. So often, individual stories turn out to be folklore, lies told by interested parties, or misapprehensions caused by the average person's poor grasp of biology. We have centuries of well-attested reports, from du Chaillu to Kingsley to George Schaller, of gorilla behavior in the wild--an array of witnesses starting from vastly different belief systems--and then a fair amount of video after that. In all that, I'm seeing a few attacks by zoo specimens, plus vague reports involving gorillas under direct attack from a human. It would be easy to imagine revenge attacks, and we seem to see that behavior in whales, elephants, and even chimps--but not gorillas. We haven't seen them seeking revenge against humans or, for that matter against other animals (as, for example, we sometimes see baboons exhibit a sort of mobbing behavior against leopards). Possibly some report I'm not familiar with with change my mind on that--I'm certainly willing to have it changed--but I'd like to see hard evidence before I buy into gorilla aggression.

      Delete
  8. As far as the Sasquatch goes--while I don't have much invested one way or another--it strikes me that many accounts come from otherwise sober, reliable people and that some of the attempts at a mundane explanation are even more implausible than an unknown primate hiding out in the Northwest and Canada. A hunter or outdoorsman, for example, especially a hardheaded, practical sort, is most unlikely to mistake a rearing bear with a long muzzle for a flat-faced hominid (Rudyard Kipling's "Truce of the Bear" notwithstanding) and a bear on its hindlegs does not move with a humanlike gait (unless said human was sauced to the gills.)

    The other possibility, that there are a lot of out-and-out hoaxers running around, would be dependent on a joke dating back to the days of the Indians and transcending cultural boundaries; also, if I were going to dress up in a gorilla outfit and run around scaring people, I probably would not pick a hunter or stockman--a person packing a gun and who might be jittery enough, or determined enough to bring in proof of my existence, to let daylight into me--to try and scare.

    So while you're not apt to find me out in the woods screaming like I've been goosed and spraying gorilla urine on trees in the hope of attracting a Sasquatch (for all we know, Sasquatches think gorillas are obnoxious bores who can't appreciate a good philosophical discussion of H.P. Lovecraft and don't even know which wines go with what roots or berries) there's just too much to my mind that can't be comfortably dismissed about the phenomenon. It's a long, long shot...but slim odds are better than none, say I.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I'm like you in that I like to keep an open mind on this matters but if you ask me, I think the supossed hominin cryptids of south east Asia such as the Orang Pendek, or the Mapinguari (not a primate, I know) are much more likely than bigfoot and co.

      The constant news reports of hoaxed photos and jokers disguised as bigfoot being hit by cars while crossing the street do nothing to add credibility to the whole thing, tho.

      Delete
    2. Maybe I'm cynical, but I have immense faith in people to delude themselves. When I was working on Deadly Animals, I met a lot of "reliable" people whose testimony was debunked by forensic evidence. I think, in the right light, under the right stressors, under the influence of the right suggestions, most of us could see something extraordinary. . . whether it's there or not. Of course that's too broad a statement to debunk every report of a cryptid, but at the least, I'd like to see forensic evidence--hair samples, DNA, skeletal remains, etc. Not many cryptid reports have that sort of evidence to offer.

      Delete
    3. Let me add that I really enjoy reading cryptid theories and tossing in my own speculations. I'm only saying I rarely get the point of saying "There's probably something to that one."

      Delete
    4. Sorry, another type. I meant "I rarely get TO the point of saying."

      Delete
    5. I made a typo in my post about a typo. Time for bed. . . .

      Delete
  9. My two personal votes for "most likely cryptoprimate to actually exist" are the Orang Pendek and the Almas of the former USSR. The DeLoys' Ape or DeLoys' Monkey is another one I'd buy into, but not as a hominid--from the picture, I'd say it's more apt to be some offshoot of the spider monkey or capuchin line that has evolved to fill the niche occupied in the Old World by chimps or some of the large monkeys like baboons (semi-terrestrial, semi-arboreal, omnivorous mid-size to large primate.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those ones may be prehistoric holdovers just as easily- in the Pleistocene there were larger, more terrestrial monkeys in the Americas, like Caipora and Protopithecus (the later being very spider-monkey like).

      Delete
  10. The account I remember was a lowland gorilla who terrorized a small town. years back. Regarding the Sasquatch phenomena.. I was one of the researchers back in the decade and although I had no gorilla urine we had access to some pheromones which produced ......... maintain your faith gentlemen :) Dan Nedrelo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would love to hear about those researches some time. . .

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...