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Is climate change forcing omnivorous species to turn on each other?

CM 07/08/2021

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In a first of its kind, chimpanzees were seen attacking and eating gorillas in the Loango national park in Gabon.
In their peer-reviewed study, published in Nature, Lara M. southern, Tobias Deschner and Simone Pika write that until now, fighting and killing has been recorded intraspecifically amongst different chimpanzee communities and between different groups of gorillas. These conflicts usually happen in territorial disputes.
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.
“The increased food competition may also be caused by the more recent phenomenon of climate change and a collapse in fruit availability as observed in other tropical forests in Gabon,” said Deschner, who is a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in a statement to the Daily Mail.
“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.”


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