Wrong! There are borders made by humans, there are borders made by other animals, and chimpanzees are known to patrol their borders to keep strangers out. Dogs recognize borders, and so do many other animals. And you don't necessarily need to see a border in order for it to be real. Sometimes you can smell a border, or hear a border, and the true test of the border's validity is whether your life is threatened when you go past a certain point.
|The border between my land and the neighbors'|
If you want to start a fight, the first thing you do is set foot on somebody else's turf. You don't have to do anything else to be seen as a challenger. That in itself is an act of aggression. After that, any action that the person defending the turf takes against you is not aggression, but defense.
|The border is the fence. A snake outside the fence is safe from the dogs.|
Being defensively assertive on somebody else's territory while refusing to leave is still aggression. I am guessing that a lot of people are confused about this issue.
Usually, I try to save the snakes, because I do think they make for better rodent control than dogs. So whenever I feel it is feasible, I will capture a snake, transport it in a plastic container and then let it loose in the field. But this snake was much more aggressive than most, and I was not sure at first whether it would be safe for me to intervene.
"I think you mean defensive. There were two dogs trying to kill it."
If you don't get this rather abstract difference, then you will not understand most of the things that are happening all around you. You won't understand the news. You won't understand the real reasons for war. And you will not understand why a stray human standing right outside the border of a chimpanzee sanctuary -- within touching range -- is seen as fair game for the male chimps in charge of the border.
Yesterday, in the news, there was an item about chimpanzees and killing.
"Murder" Comes Natually to Chimpanzees
But is it really "murder" when it involves protecting borders? Isn't it more like war?
"Lethal aggression in Pan is better explained by adaptive strategies than human impacts." That's the Nature headline.
Every group has its own territory. The territory provides all the necessities of life, but it will not support an unlimited number of individuals. Therefore, the stronger members of the group work together to keep outsiders out. It is a matter of survival. It works like that for chimpanzees, and it works like that for man. And it is not a matter to get all sentimental about.
But here's another point that various animal rights activists do not understand. Group membership is not decided genetically. It is based on mutual acceptance. The dogs kill snakes, but they know I have a right to be in the yard, because I am the leader of their group. They are killers, but they are also very loyal and supportive of those on their team.
Bow gets very upset every time a stranger shows up on my land. But we are family, and he is not going to hurt me. He often gestures for me to get out of the way, concerned that I might get hurt in one of his displays. He is a true gentleman, that way.
Group membership is a matter of being used to one another and forming lasting bonds. It is not about blood ties. That's why apartheid between humans and chimpanzees is the surest way toward enmity, and why coexistence requires committed and lasting contact.