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A fatal attack on an unweaned infant by a non-resident male in a free-ranging group of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) at Katsuyama

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Abstract

A non-resident male attacked a 4-month-old unweaned infant in a free-ranging group of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) and it died 2 days later from a severe wound. When the infant was alone at the feeding site, the non-resident male rushed at it. The infant ran away as soon as it became aware of the male, but was captured. The male bit the infant on its hand, foot, and arm, while continuously scanning his surroundings. He did not kill the infant immediately and, after the infant escaped, he did not chase or attack it at all. Although the infant’s right arm was bleeding heavily, it survived until the following day. The infanticide occurred a few weeks before the mating season began, so the victim’s mother soon resumed estrus and the subsequent inter-birth interval was shortened. The first-, second-, and fourth-ranking adult males had died or disappeared a few months before this infanticide, and there were no other group members near the infant when the infanticidal male appeared. The infanticidal male had not been observed before this incident. Compared to one-male groups, the occurrence of infanticide in multi-male groups of Japanese macaques is extremely infrequent. However, in other reports of infanticide in Japanese macaques as well as in this case, it has been noted that infanticide is likely to occur in the pre- or early-mating season, when there are no resident males to defend the infant against attacks, and when a threatening male is least likely to be the infant’s father.

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Acknowledgements

We express our sincere thanks to Dr. C. van Schaik for his useful comments on an earlier draft and the town hall staff of Katsuyama for their kind help and encouragement during this study.

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Correspondence to Kazunori Yamada.

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Yamada, K., Nakamichi, M. A fatal attack on an unweaned infant by a non-resident male in a free-ranging group of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) at Katsuyama. Primates 47, 165–169 (2006) doi:10.1007/s10329-005-0154-8

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Keywords

  • Infanticide
  • Infanticide prevention
  • Japanese macaques
  • Multi-male group