We went out this morning to see how the M group chimpanzees are doing. The answer is that they’re doing fine. Almost business as usual…
As for the past 10 months, there still is not a clear cut decision on who exactly is the Alpha male of the M group. Between the two main contenders - Alofu (33 yrs) and Primus (22 yrs) - we do lean more towards to Primus for having the best cards. However as it stands now it’s far from a rock solid appearance.
Primus sitting next to Tito with an oestrus female (background).
It seems that Alofu prefers the nr two 'out of the wind' position more, but only to use his influence cleverly when it matters. Doing so, he obtains access to certain privileges of the Alpha position such as females.
So how does that work?
Well, Alofu is aging and although a massive chimpanzee, he has less physical power and stamina than Primus. But being a former Alpha he turns out to be a master strategist. By ‘half way’ choosing the 2nd spot, he keeps himself out of the wind on a number of things, like confrontations.
Alofu looking up at noisy scene in the tree.
And well aware of how to influence the group members around him, he demands Alpha privileges when they matter to him. Primus knows Alofu is a force to be reckoned with and so does let it happen. But in contrast to that, it seems Primus mostly has the privilege with the ladies on heat.
So does this make Primus the Alpha male? Likely, but not certainly not definite. Does it make Alofu Alpha male? No, that is more unlikely. Is this interesting? Very!