From: Vanessa Woods
Published September 17, 2007 11:28 AM

ENN Blog From The Congo: "Poor Malakai"


I think there’s a lot of confusion when people say bonobos aren’t violent. They can be violent, but the difference between bonobos and chimps are how they are violent and why.

Mackali, one of the older males, got the crap beat out of him by the females in group 2. Mackali was rescued from a biomedical lab where he spent years in a tiny cage, so he has a few issues. One of them is he likes to drag branches like a psycho. He used to be in group 3 with the juveniles and they all loved having a big tough guy around. The girls in group 2 felt differently.

Mackali was found in the forest, alone, with a deep gash on his foot and numerous bites all over him, suggesting he was attacked by several females.

Females ganging up to beat down an aggressive male is unheard of in chimps. It’s the females who get beaten. And the attack on Mackali, though vicious, didn’t involve any kind of torture like one bonobo sitting on his chest and twisting his leg until it breaks off, like has been observed in wild chimpanzees.

Even though Mackali is shaken up enough so he probably won’t try to pull the tough guy act any more, he will be ok. He wasn’t killed, which also happens in chimp groups.

So the main difference in violence in chimp and bonobo societies is that

1. it’s usually the females who gang up on a male to keep him in check

2. bonobos have never been seen to kill each other.

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