Romance at Gombe
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, JGI’s Deus Mjungu reports on the Gombe chimpanzees’ latest romantic escapades.
When undergoing estrus, the period of time when a female is fertile, a female chimpanzee normally mates with multiple males in a community. However, a high-ranking male sometimes guards an estrous female, restricting other males from mating with her, to ensure that he is the true father of an infant.
Presently, four females in one Gombe group are in estrus. The four females include Trezia, Schweini, Sandi and Rumumba. When in estrus, Trezia and Schweini are highly sought-after females who tend to attract a lot of male attention. Males normally stay close to these two females, waiting for an opportunity to mate with them.
For hours, the alpha male Ferdinand has been trying, without success, to prevent other males from mating with these two female chimps. Whenever Ferdinand tries to prevent males from mating with one female, other males use this opportunity to mate with the other female. Poor Ferdinand, it is difficult to guard more than one female at a time.