What animals feed on chimpanzees?
Chimpanzees are flesh and bones, and several animals feed on them although, in practice, they have very few predators in their natural habitat. They are pretty powerful primates, very agile when moving among the trees; they have an exceptional intelligence and an extraordinary social life. Therefore, not many animals dare to attack a chimpanzee, and although these are rare, they do happen sometimes.
One of the predators of chimpanzees is the leopard (Panthera pardus), a feline of wide distribution, powerful claws, sharp teeth and incredible strength. It can easily climb trees, so it is not especially difficult to reach a chimpanzee. In the national parks of Lopé and Taï, in Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon, respectively, leopard attacks are one of the most important causes of death of these primates.
Leopards can feed on bonobos and common chimpanzees, but they sometimes kill the offspring of these cats to reduce the odds of being attacked when they grow. It sounds harsh, but it is only a strategy that has the purpose of increasing their chances of survival.
Chimpanzees sometimes kill big cats offspring to increase their chances of survival.
The African rock python (Phyton sebae) is the largest snake in Africa, and if it has the occasion, it does not resist feeding on a chimpanzee. It is also one of the six largest snakes in the world, and it kills its prey by constriction, that is, by suffocation as it coils around them. Pythons are stealthy and climb trees quickly. An unsuspecting chimpanzee is highly vulnerable to their attacks.
Other occasional predators are lions (Panthera leo). Lions have been observed attacking them in the National Park of the Mahale Mountains, in Tanzania. Lions, although can climb trees, often kill chimpanzees when they are on the ground. Observations of attacks by these felines are very rare in other areas where both species live. Similarly, it is possible that martial eagles (Poleamaetus bellicosus) predate on young common chimpanzees.
These attacks on chimpanzees are not frequent and are usually made by animals that live in the same area of them, or their territories overlap so that they may encounter each other. However, chimpanzees are not an essential part of these predators’ diet, and the victims are usually infants, old, young or weak individuals.
Chimpanzees, mainly Pan troglodytes, are known to attack, kill and consume the meat of other specimens of the same species, usually offspring and members who do not belong to their communities. This behavior is not directly related to their need to feed, but it probably is and activity to establish dominance over others. When males kill and eat the offspring of a female, what they try to do is “eliminate the genes” or offspring that is not theirs.
But there is a predator more dangerous than pythons, leopards, lions, martial eagles and even chimpanzees: humans. For a long time, people have exploited the qualities of these apes, such as their intelligence and characteristics similar to men, and have used them for their benefit. Additionally, we indirectly affect their populations by cutting down trees and growing the urban areas, resulting in a loss and fragmentation of habitat. For these and other reasons, both species of chimpanzees are in danger of extinction.
There is a predator more dangerous than the pythons or lions: the human being.
How do Chimpanzees defend themselves against their predators?
Usually living on trees keeps them safe from land animals, but their natural predators can climb trees. Some males build their nests in the lower parts of the trees; one of the reasons could be the protection of females from terrestrial predators.
If they are lucky enough to spot an enemy approaching, they emit loud warning calls to their groupmates so they can quickly escape. Sometimes they have no choice but facing danger and try to survive.
When confronting predators, they utter loud screams and use whatever objects they have at their disposal to scare the predators away and to defend from them. If the animal does not retreat, they quickly escape through the trees trying to protect their life.
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