Chimp featured in David Attenborough's Dynasties found beaten to death by other primates

Clémence Michallon

A chimpanzee who became known on David Attenborough’s new series has been found beaten to death, likely by members of his own troop.

The ape, who was named David, is featured in the first episode of Attenborough’s new series, Dynasties.

David, an alpha male, is described in the programme as a “strong and determined leader”, defending his rule as younger rivals challenge his leadership.

“This is a story of power, politics, and the fight for survival,” Attenborough says in a BBC Earth clip introducing his namesake.

But it has emerged that the alpha chimp died after the cameras stopped rolling.

David was found dead in February by researchers in Senegal, West Africa, The Telegraph reported.

Dr Jill Pruetz, an anthropologist and primatologist who has studied David’s troop for two decades, was pained by the discovery.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she told the newspaper. Pruetz has previously experienced the loss of David’s brother, a chimp named Mamadou.

David’s death occurred about seven months after Attenborough’s show finished taping in the Fongoli savanna.

Two other chimps featured in the programme, who had previously challenged his leadership, now apparently have the upper hand.

“He died from wounds inflicted from what at I’m sure are these young males,” Pruetz said of David.

The chimpanzee had an aggressive temperament, she added, which his how he was able to dominate his troop for so long.

In Dynasties, David was left for dead after being attacked by his brethren Luther and Jumkin.

The BBC series saw him clinging to life, then making a remarkable recovery to rise to power once again.

Jumkin has now become the alpha, according to Pruetz. His reign, however, his already being challenged by Luther.

West African chimpanzees, like all five of the species featured in Dynasties, are endangered.

The BBC show also documents the lives of emperor penguins, lions - officially classified as vulnerable by WWF due to a decrease in population - African wild dogs, and tigers.