Published: May 1979

Jane Goodall


Life and Death at Gombe

Violence never seen before erupts among Africa's chimpanzees in the continuing chronicle of their behavior by a pioneer observer.

By Jane Goodall
Photograph by Jane Goodall

WAR AND KIDNAPPING, killing and cannibalism: How inappropriate—how jarring—those words seemed as I stood in a tree's shade looking out across the glinting waters of Lake Tanganyika.

Behind me, where the westering sun had turned the tall grass into a sea of gold, a large group of chimpanzees was feeding. The scene was utterly peaceful, as peaceful as it was on a day 17 years earlier when I had first set foot in what is today Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park.

Yet now I had new knowledge—now I knew that there, among those dark mountains across the lake in Zaire, moved terrorist forces, armed men who had raided Gombe in the night and left haunting fear behind. And I knew that some of our chimpanzees, so gentle for the most part, could on occasion become savage killers, ruthless cannibals, and that they had their own form of primitive warfare.

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