Chimpanzee attack
A file picture of chimpanzees.University of Zurich

For the first time, scientists have found evidence of a leopard eating a chimpanzee in the African nation of Tanzania.

Rarely, people have witnessed chimpanzees and leopards coming in contact in the jungles of Africa. On these occasions, the chimpanzees - which travel in groups, have been found to be aggressive and send loud calls warning their enemies. Earlier studies have also shown chimpanzees of being capable to defend themselves against the leopards.

In some cases, chimpanzees have been documented killing leopard cubs. In one case, a group of about 33 chimpanzees have been observed to surround a leopard den with a mother and a cub. The chimps reportedly dragged the cub and killed it. This was the first report of chimpanzees or any other primate species killing their potential predator's cub.

However, it seems chimpanzees do not win every time. In a first, scientists have found evidence of a leopard eating a chimpanzee in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park. The wildlife park is one of the few places where the range of leopards and chimpanzees overlap with each other.

For the study, the research team collected faeces of African leopards from June to August 2012. In one of the droppings of a feline, researchers noticed kneecaps and toe bones. Using a DNA analysis, the team found that the bones belonged to a female adult chimp. However, researchers are yet to confirm if the leopard killed the chimpanzee and ate it, reported LiveScience. Based on these findings, researchers will re-examine three deep wounds sustained by three chimps over the past few years, the report said.

While the new study has given the first evidence of a leopard predating on a chimp, this is not the first case of a feline killing the primates. A study carried out in 1993 found evidence showing lions killing four chimpanzees at the Mahale Mountains National Park. Four samples of lion faeces showed the presence of chimpanzee remains, including hairs, bones, and a tooth.

The details of the findings are published online in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Below is a video showing a group of chimpanzees attacking an artificial leopard.