National Geographic: The New Chimpanzees


the forests of equatorial Africa,

while bonobos were restricted

to the Congo basin.

Today, both species survive

in isolated fragments,

and are studied at a handful of sites.

Gombe, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika

in Tanzania,

was where Jane Goodall began her

study 35 years ago.

Fifi is the only chimp still alive

from that time

with six surviving offspring.

Freud, her eldest,

is now the dominant male in her group,

while her younger son, Frodo,

is the largest chimp at Gombe and

working his way up the male hierarchy.

Freud now leads the tightly

bonded party of males that

form the core of the group.

Male chimps stay in the group

of their birth,

and cooperate when there

is common cause.

Every week or so,

the males form

a paramilitary patrol to defend

and test the borders

of their territory.

In single file and total silence,

they follow their leader

in search of trespassing neighbors.

Hair standing on end, they listen

for the voices of their foes.

Each community of male chimps

jealously guard their territory

and the females in residence.

A stranger turns and flees.

Though groups of males rarely engage

in battle,

an individual caught

by a border patrol is at serious risk.

In the 1970's, Jane Goodall described

a harrowing chain of events.

Her study group split in two,

and over the course of four years,

the males of one group

systematically hunted down

and brutally killed every adult

in the other group

chilling evidence that warfare

is a painful legacy

from our primate forbears.

Gombe's steep slopes the stage

for all this high drama tumble

from open grassland to riverene forest,

from the top of the Great Rift

to the blue basin of Tanganyika.

Today, a new generation climbs

the path blazed by Jane Goodall.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: The New Chimpanzees" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 7 Mar. 2021. <>.

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