Conservation & environment

King Maker

06 February 2015

Meet Kalunde, the oldest chimp of the M-group at approximately 54 years. Kalunde's many years of experience has earned him the nickname, 'King-maker'.

Some say he has survived so many years because of his political guile. He only served as Alpha Male to the M-group for a very brief period, but his ability to use other stronger chimpanzees for his benefit has been his stronghold in life.

The name 'King-maker' comes from him playing a major role in the rise of many previous alphas in the M-group. This role is not fixed however and Kalunde has shown great betrayal in the past and turned on what would seem to be his friend and ally. When weakness at the top is sensed, Kalunde has made a 180 degree turn in his role and forced an attack on the Alpha by the high ranking males. In the picture above, the top three ranking males follow Kalunde down a path for a grooming session.

This political craft of Kalunde shows great intelligence and a knowing of our saying of 'keep your friends close but your enemies closer.' Kalunde thus may not have been seen as the Alpha, but may have influenced the group more so by supporting powerful individuals and using them for his benefits.

Unfortunately Kalunde's reign may have come to an end. He has not been seen for some time which leads us to believe one of two things may have happened. Either age has caught up with him and he has passed on, or he is avoiding the group because the young males see him as an easy target to show off their strength when the Alpha Male is not around. We most certainly hope for the latter.

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