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

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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 interactions from other chimpanzees. They will recruit support, have their weapons confiscated by females, etc.

Chimps are fairly aggressive animals; nevertheless, reconciliations are an important aspect of social life.

After conflict, reconciliation almost always takes place, involving kissing, mutual grooming, etc. This may be mediated by a third party (usually a female in the case of male-male conflict).

Coalitions occur routinely. They are one of the main reasons that brute strength is seldom the only, or even leading, determinant of who becomes alpha male.

Though it has been common in animal behavior circles to avoid attributing thought, rationality, and so forth to animals, this is often unavoidable when looking at chimps; their behavior is highly strategic.

Chapter 1: Chimpanzee personalities: Prior to the introduction of the males, the dominant chimp in the colony is an elderly female named Mama. Her trusty sidekick is another female named Gorilla. Gorilla is a loyal ally, and therefore has high status among the females. She is very fond of children, and was the first chimp ever to be trained to bottle feed a...