Possible male infanticide in wild orangutans and a re-evaluation of infanticide risk
Knott, Cheryl D.
Scott, Amy M.
O'Connell, Caitlin A.
Scott, Katherine S.
Laman, Timothy G.
Susanto, Tri Wahyu
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Citation (published version)Cheryl D Knott, Amy M Scott, Caitlin A O'Connell, Katherine S Scott, Timothy G Laman, Riyandi, Tri Wahyu Susanto. 2019. "Possible Male Infanticide in Wild Orangutans and a Re-evaluation of Infanticide Risk.." Sci Rep, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 7806. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-42856-w
Infanticide as a male reproductive tactic is widespread across mammals, and is particularly prevalent in catarrhine primates. While it has never been observed in wild orangutans, infanticide by non-sire males has been predicted to occur due to their extremely long inter-birth intervals, semi-solitary social structure, and the presence of female counter-tactics to infanticide. Here, we report on the disappearance of a healthy four-month-old infant, along with a serious foot injury suffered by the primiparous mother. No other cases of infant mortality have been observed at this site in 30 years of study. Using photographic measurements of the injury, and information on the behavior and bite size of potential predators, we evaluate the possible causes of this injury. The context, including the behavior of the female and the presence of a new male at the time of the injury, lead us to conclude that the most likely cause of the infant loss and maternal injury was male infanticide. We suggest that in orangutans, and other species where nulliparous females are not preferred mates, these females may be less successful at using paternity confusion as an infanticide avoidance tactic, thus increasing the likelihood of infanticide of their first-born infants.
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