Despite the ridiculous reputation that the Gorilla has been given, of a terrifying beast that will rip you apart, they are generally very gentle animals. Conversely, Chimpanzees have been shown as a largely gentle species, very similar to humans. This is also quite untrue.
Chimpanzees are incredibly effective hunters, and while much of their diet is vegetarian, and in captivity they are not usually given meat, in the wild they do hunt with relative frequency even if the majority of their diet is vegetable matter.
The one time that a Gorilla can become extremely dangerous is in protection of its family.
This new discovery though, is something that was thought not to happen. The team from Osnabrück University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has for the first time, observed lethal attacks on gorillas by chimpanzees. The team is now trying to ascertain if this occurred as a result of competition for food, or whether it is a new behaviour – caused by a reduced productivity in the rainforest, due to global warming.
In the two encounters observed (lasting 52 minutes and 79 minutes), the silverbacks and the adult females bravely defended the troupe and survived. Unfortunately, 2 gorilla infants were separated from their family and were killed.
This interaction occurred in the Loanga national park in Gabon, where Gorillas and Chimpanzees and on occasion forest elephants are all competing for the same food. It is an area that I am very keen to visit at some point