There is a dominance hierarchy among chimpanzees in a community, particularly among the males.
The Alpha Male – The Dominant Male or Boss in a Social Group
Displays: The dominant male often charges and displays by bristling his hair, dragging or shaking branches and banging or stomping on whatever he can find. These displays make the male look powerful and large, often more so than he may actually be.
Coalitions: Power-wielding coalitions are formed between individuals of both sexes. The ability for a male to enlist support during conflict is one of the most important factors in attaining and maintaining his rank. A male does not have to be the largest or the strongest of the group to attain alpha status – a smart, cunning male that knows how to manipulate social situations may gain the top position with the appropriate allies and friends. The alpha male typically keeps the peace in the group by settling disputes and maintaining social order. Most disputes within a community can be solved by threats rather than actual attacks. The alpha male also protects his group and is usually the first to lead the group to a new location or on a patrol.
Advantages of being alpha male: Alpha males frequently take meat and preferred foods from others. Access to females and the reproductive benefits that follow are one of the biggest advantages of being the alpha male. Alpha tenure lasts between three and 10 years, and only a few males achieve top rank.
Chimpanzees are Territorial
- In the wild, they may wage “war” on neighboring communities.
- Home territories can range from 30 to 150 square miles.
- Males patrol boundaries of their home range.
- Males will make short trips into neighboring territories in search of enemies.
- Strangers are not well received in established communities, except in the case of a female who is ready to mate.
- A meeting between two rival groups can result in serious injuries and even death.