P.O. Box 2743, Portland
OR 97208
info@sanaga-yong.org
971-544-7772

Alpha Male Future Suffers Injuries but Survives as Leader

Future, A Popular Leader

Seventeen-year-old Future has been the alpha male of his social group of 19 rescued chimpanzees for about two years. Future is kind and brave. He enjoys a lot of support from a posse of males who always stand with him as he mediates conflict in the group. The females also love Future because he’s gentle with them, doesn’t steal their food and doesn’t let other males be mean to them.

Luke, an Ambitious Male, Started to Make His Play

This past July, Luke, a bigger and slightly younger male, began harassing and trying to pick fights with members of Future’s posse. It was an indirect way of challenging Future’s authority. Each time it happened, Future, with the support of the group, was able to quickly put Luke in his place and get an apology from him. For several months, Luke regularly created disorder like this, but he was afraid to challenge Future directly. He remained overtly submissive to him.

Serious Trouble for Future 

Unfortunately, it changed one night in October. Luke and Future were sharing a sleeping chamber, where they had slept peacefully together many times before. But this time, while they were separated from the rest of the group, Luke attacked and badly injured Future, causing deep lacerations and punctures on his hands, feet and face.

Uncertainty for the Group

We weren’t sure what it would mean for the leadership of the group. Would Luke take over, though he had little support from any of the chimpanzees in the group? Or would Future regain his confidence as he healed and maintain his role as alpha male?

A Return to Power

Future allowed the veterinary team to flush his wounds, and he took his antibiotics willingly. It was critically important that he avoid Luke during his convalescense, while he was weak. His caregivers helped him by keeping Luke inside for a few weeks. Finally,  Future was well, and it was clear that the other chimpanzees in the group were still with him. So the caregivers let Luke join them in their 20-acre forested enclosure. With the other chimps behind him, Future displayed fiercely at Luke to show his dominance.  When Luke screamed, offered his hand and then his back, submitting and begging for reconciliation, Future accepted that it was settled. For the moment, Future shows no signs of wanting to punish Luke, and Luke is again overtly submissive.

The caregivers will observe carefully and will never again leave the two males in a sleeping chamber together, at least not any time soon. His recent trouble notwithstanding, Future is a very good, fair leader. We hope he will reign for a long time.

 

Four Lovely Females Chastise an Aggressive Male

Females in Future’s group have a good sense of justice and help keep peace. In a recent late afternoon altercation between adult males Simon and Bouboule, a group of four much smaller females showed their clout. After being in the forest all day, Simon attacked Bouboule near their satellite cage when alpha male Future and all the other males had already gone inside. It could have grown into a very nasty fight, except that Simon was caught by surprise when Leilah, Niete, Alice, and Lucy rushed from the forest to break it up. The females pounced on Simon, which seemed to injure his pride more than anything else, and immediately ended the fight between the two males.

 

Below are photos of Leilah, Niete, Alice, and Lucy ( clockwise from upper left)

 

Simon and Bouboule

The Road Ahead

Back in 1999, my colleagues and I brought the first rescued chimpanzees to our new forested sanctuary, which I would soon name Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, based on its location near the confluence of the Sanaga and Yong Rivers in Cameroon’s Mbargue Forest. That same year, we established IDA-Africa as a program of In Defense of Animals (IDA) to be the fund-raising arm for our life-saving work in Cameroon.  

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Contact

Email: info@sanaga-yong.org
Phone: 971-544-7772
Address: P.O. Box 2743, Portland OR 97208

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