A Brief Overview of Da Waal's Political Book: Chimpanzee Politics

1447 Words Feb 17th, 2005 6 Pages
de Waal, F. (1982) Chimpanzee politics: power and sex among apes. New York: Harper and Row.

Introduction: The Arnhem chimp colony had about 25 individuals housed in an outdoor enclosure of almost two acres. Partially wooded, the enclosure has a mixture of live trees protected by electrical fencing and dead ones.

Over a hundred recurring gestures and recurring signals have been observed in Arnhem, all of which have also been seen in the wild.

One of the phenomena that makes aggression, social behavior, and communication difficult to observe in chimps (other than the sheer speed with which things happen) is side-directed behavior. Two chimpanzees in an encounter (aggressive or otherwise) will either initiate or be on the receiving end of
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The whole power takeover took about six months, during which there were only five serious fights between the males. The last one was clearly won by Luit. It is not the case that Luit took over the alpha male position because he won the last fight; rather, he won the last fight because his self-confidence was up because he was winning the overall dominance struggle.

The dominance struggle was over when Yeroen "greeted" Luit for the first time. There was widespread joy in the chimp colony; Everyone knew this meant peace. When this happened, Yeroen slipped all the way to third place in the hierarchy, behind Nikkie as well as Luit.

One most not get the impression that all the time was spent fighting or even displaying. In fact, the males engaged in conflict spent an elevated amount of time grooming each other during this period.

As leader, Luit adopted a brand new policy: that of peacemaker. When two chimps started fighting, he would force them apart without taking sides. When he had to take sides, he would take the part of the weaker chimp in an increasing majority of cases, just as Yeroen had done as alpha male. Presumably, this was a way of insuring support.

Gradually after this a coalition formed between Yeroen and Nikkie. Yeroen would on occasion refuse to greet Luit, and even attack him, and sometimes get Nikkie's support. Such encounters would end
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