The Kinda baboon (Papio kindae) is a type of baboon living in Angola, northern Zambia, and southern Democratic Republic of Congo. It has been described morphologically and genetically but until now its behavior has not been studied in the wild. The purpose of the Kasanka Baboon Project is to study in detail Kinda baboons. This ongoing in-depth study will provide new information on the genus Papio (baboons) and document the behavior, ecology, and genetics of Kinda baboons.
Kinda baboons exhibit a number of distinctive characteristics when compared to other baboons. Kinda baboons are smaller and more slender than other baboons and are also the least sexually dimorphic in size, with adult male Kinda mass matching that of adult female chacma baboons. Kinda baboon pelage (coat) is similar to typical yellow baboons', but with a distinctively soft, silky texture. Kindas have a pronounced crest of hair on the top of their head, pink skin around the perimeter of their eyes, and unlike the black-furred newborn infants of other baboons, Kinda infants often have white natal coats.
Results from a pilot study Anna Weyher conducted in Kafue National Park show that Kinda baboons also exhibit a number of distinctive social behaviors related to gender roles, particularly in the quality of their friendships. This suite of characteristics reflects that there is more diversity within the genus Papio (baboons) than has been thought previously. These unique features are likely related to recent genetic findings that Kindas represent one of the oldest lineages in the evolutionary history of baboons.
In gregarious primate societies that include several adults of both sexes, females typically remain within their birth group, while adult males emigrate into unrelated groups. Females form close social bonds with other females. However, opposite-sex 'friendships' do occur at a high rate. Primate friendships are defined as affiliative associations between an adult male and female that occur outside of mating. Male-female friendships have been observed in other baboon species, and are identified by grooming partnerships in which females typically groom males. In contrast, our preliminary results show that in Kindas, it is the adult males who are most active in initiating grooming, and they regularly groom lactating females, engaging in long grooming bouts that may continue uninterrupted for as long as an hour. These observations suggest that male-female relationships may be very different in Kinda baboons.