While reading Chimpanzee Politics, I found myself periodically looking back at the cover to really make sure I was indeed reading a book that concerned a group of chimpanzees. I could not believe that I never took an interest in our closest relatives prior to this reading as I now see how complex and organized they truly are. Even more interesting was the fact that I found myself many times actually “rooting” for one of these chimpanzees as if I was reading some kind of war novel.
The resemblance of the community established in the Arnhem zoo in comparison to that of certain governments around the world is sort of uncanny. The need to have power, the need to always be the one leading, is something that appears to be innate in human beings. One would think that chimpanzees would be more violent towards each other in the sense that they are animals, and they would do anything to gain power, but when you really think about it is practically the same type of tactics that are put into play in underdeveloped countries to seize power and maintain it. Another aspect of power that chimpanzees relied on had to do with who they surrounded themselves with; they clearly understand the whole “stronger in numbers” idea and apply it very well in their communities. Much like politicians, they know how to bride and garner trust through doing things for one another in hopes that the help will be reciprocated when needed. Makes me wonder if this where the term: “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” came to be.
Chimpanzees understood that for them to rise to power they need to have the support of others, namely females who also play a great part of the governing of such communities. One would assume that the alpha male is who decides what goes on in its entirety, when in reality; it is evident how feeble they may be when a challenger (with supporters) is determined to take the thrown. Something as simple as grooming is