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Male members of a chimpanzee group have a linear ranking.

EXTRACT FROM 'THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE' - DECEMBER 2008 - BY BILL GIVENS

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On arrival at Greystoke Mahale Camp we focused our attention on our guide, who started by telling us about the group of chimps we would be visiting. He knew all their names and could recognise individual, but his claim that he would introduce us to the politics at work in the group raised eyebrows amongst the humans present. Surely, this was an enthusiastic guide injecting some humour? No way could chimpanzee society be sophisticated enough for that sort of social interaction.

But meeting Kalunde was a revelation. At 45 he is the oldest male in the group and has spent the majority of his years using his political skills to manipulate the male hierarchy to his advantage. Male members of a chimpanzee group have a linear ranking, with the dominant animal known as the alpha. A high-ranking male has the advantage of access to females in oestrus and a good share of meat during hunting; the alpha gains the best access to both.

Africa Geographic, December 2008