No! My baby!
The expectant mother, who finally gave birth to her child, had been taken away its chance to spend time with her baby. Just within seconds, a male of the same group snatched it away! What's worse is he had it as his next meal! Yes, you read that right.
While only little is known about chimpanzees birthing in the wild, this new and rare sighting might explain certain expectant mothers' behaviours, said Hitonaru Nishie of Kyoto University in Japan.
Soon-to-be mothers usually leave its group when the baby is due and only comes back when the baby has grown for weeks or months. Described as "maternity leave", the researchers might've finally known why: they're hiding!
As a female chimp gave birth in front of the 20 other group members on December, researchers saw how "as soon as the baby was out – and before the mother had even had a chance to touch it – the baby was snatched away by a male member of the group, who then disappeared into the bush," NewScientist reported. He was later on (about 1 and a half hours) seen eating the infant and finishing it within just an hour!
Why this mother didn't leave, though, might be due to her innocence. That is, she could've not know yet the needed "maternity leave" as this may have been her first pregnancy, says Tatyana Humle at the University of Kent, UK. “I would predict that she would go on ‘maternity leave’ next time,” she says. Which she indeed did!
While this behavior has been observed to male animals, infanticide and cannabilism are actually extremely rare among chimpanzees, says Hulme. I work with a chimp community in West Africa, and I have never witnessed any cases,” she says.
Well, this could be what it is in the animal kingdom but I still just can't stop being horrified everytime I see phenomena like this.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!