Deliberate deception in gorillas???

Its starting to be the fruit season. Fruit is by far the preferred food of Western Lowland Gorillas. However, when it comes to fruit feeding Kingo is the definitely the mean one. He will charge and be aggressive to the females and the infants if they are eating fruit close to him. So you will often see Kingo sitting there with his arms full of fruit surrounded by females who are not eating. As soon as Kingo leaves the females will begin to feed.

However sometimes it looks like the females and Kusu and Ekendi will deliberately try to deceive Kingo. Of course we are in no position to speculate on gorillas thought processes but that’s what it looks like to us.

Mama will sit next to Kingo eating something else such as leaves but will be quietly gathering fruit and hiding it in her feet. Ekendi will run round Kingo doing little twirls and quickly picking up fruit and then sitting with his back towards to Kingo. Kusu will pick up fruit and then ‘hide’ behind us to eat it. That’s a technique that I’m not particularly happy with. Kusu isn’t really a subtle eater and I think Kingo won’t hesitate to charge us when he works out what’s happening. We’ve been lucky so far. Mekome and Ugly will eat fruit ever so slowly and quietly you can hardly tell they are doing it at all. Emilie, I think, has given up and will often be sleeping close to Kingo surrounded by fruit.

This seems to be a personality trait of Kingo. With our huge sample size of two, Buka, the silverback of the group being habituated, seems to be quite happy to let everyone eat fruit.

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One Comment

  1. Tonia
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Interesting how each individual has a different strategy to deal with Kingo’s magisterial ways.

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