British researchers say vicious 'gang warfare' between banded mongoose groups isn't just a fight for food and territory, but may also be a way to reduce inbreeding among group members.
SOUNDBITE (English) DR FAYE THOMPSON, OF THE CENTRE FOR ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION ON THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER'S PENRYN CAMPUS, SAYING: "Banded mongooses engage in these really violent conflicts with one another and it's tantamount to gang warfare. Rival groups on seeing each other will screech to alert their fellow group members that there's a rival group in the area and then they'll come together and have these really violent clashes where individuals are often injured and sometimes killed as a result. "It looks like these groups of mongooses are engaging in these violent fights over resources like food and territory. But also it might be a way for these groups to try to get matings with other group members. Engaging in these fights with rivals might be a way for them to obtain extra group matings and to try and reduce the level of inbreeding within their group. And we've actually observed males and females from rival groups engaging in matings while these very chaotic fights are going on. "A really surprising result was that pregnant females are less likely to abort their litter if their group is involved in a violent conflict during their gestation.....pregnant females might be finding a way to maintain their pregnancy in order to boost the numbers of their group and give their group an advantage in future conflicts. "Humans are also another co-operative species. We live in social groups and we help each other with things like raising family, working together. So understanding how conflict arises and is resolved in things like in species like banded mongooses can also inform us on human social behaviour as well."