BLOG # 9 – 12

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September 2012

By: Elizabeth Winterton

THE FATE OF EMIGRANT MALES

In most cases, the fate of emigrant males is unknown. We don’t know if they survived their transfer, whether they are mating successfully, or what troop they now belong to.

In all baboon species when males reach sexual maturity, normally around 8 years of age, they leave their natal troop to go in search of mating opportunities with unrelated females. So, back in March with sexual maturity reached Leon left the troop, shortly followed by JK and Cat in April.

Since then they haven’t been seen; that was until last week. Whilst trying to locate our study group we came across the troop of 100 whose home range overlaps with that of the study troops. With an estimated 15 adult males in their group we were surprised to notice 2 very familiar looking faces. Although a little bit bulkier than when we last saw them, they were definitely Cat and Leon. We only got to see them for a few minutes, but they still appeared to be hanging out together and were fully integrated into the troop.

Hopefully in the coming years we will habituate this second group, and get to find out how well our baboons are thriving in their new troop

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Leon relaxing in his new troop

PREPARATIONS

As my time as camp manager is coming to an end in the next few months preparations are under way for my replacement, which means it’s time for the camp to have a facelift. As the matete has now been harvested this meant we could rebuild the second shower and finish off the roof over the second tent. This also fortunately coincides with the arrival of Erik, a University student who is coming to intern with the project for a few months. 

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        The roof after completion

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          The shower being re-built

OUR LITTLE OLD LADY

It appears in many baboon troops within Kasanka there rarely seems to be any obviously old members. In general, baboons will live between 15 and 25 years and I would estimate the oldest baboons I’ve seen in other troops would be 17 to 18 years old.

In our study troop however we have one female who is distinctly older than the rest (I’m guessing around 20 years old), our little old lady, L.P. Seemingly the lowest ranking female in the troop she is rarely seen interacting with other troop members apart from Janis.

Over the last few months since Jojo’s death, and therefore the demise of her occasional male grooming partner, L.P. seems to have gotten more fragile and has developed a tumour in her right cheek pouch. Despite this she still seems to be doing okay although we can go days without seeing her. Fortunately the tumour doesn’t appear to be hindering her feeding habits too much so let’s hope she keeps going for a while longer yet, although with the leopard spoor we found near one of the sleeping sites last week she will have to keep her wits about her. 

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L.P. with Jojo

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        L.P. with her tumour

MORE NEW BABIES

Last time I said we were expecting 2 more babies in the next few weeks. Dolly, who I expected to give birth at the end of August still hasn’t had a baby, however Ella has. She gave birth to a mixed coloured infant (black head, white body) on the 7

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September. So far the baby seems to be doing great and Ella is already commanding the attention of quite a few of the females.

Patsy who was not expected to give birth until the latter half of the month has also had her baby. Born on the 10

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September we now have another black infant.

This now brings our total this year so far to 11 babies with 5 white, 1 grey, 2 black and 3 mixed.

During the first few days after birth it seems most females don’t like to have their other children around, and both Elvis and Pearl, Ella and Patsy’s respective children who were born last year, who were almost guaranteed to be sat with their mother’s in the mushitu every morning, have been banished.

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     Ella with her new infant Etta

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Sufjan (mixed), Patsy with her new infant (black), Yoko, MJ and MJ’s infant (white)

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