June 27, 2008

My neighboring baboons - BEHAVIOUR and power struggles.

The above illustrates the balanced, healthy approach that our neighboring baboons here have towards humans. This same baboon - when approached by a stranger getting ouf of a vehicle on this road, runs away as soon as the person opens the car door. (See the video clip below for an illustration of rank between troop members.)

Baboons see humans as individuals and are able to ascertain who can and who cannot be trusted. The problem starts when the baboon has experienced too many humans that have shown a subordinate position by giving food by hand to a baboon who has not had many bad experiences with humans at that stage.
When this happens a lot, at crucial development stages in a baboon's life (juveniles/sub adults), the chances of the baboon generalising about humans is greater.

Handing food to a baboon by hand - simply translated - means you are giving over your power as only those at the "top" get first access to favourite foods.

It requires some understanding of baboon language (which the average person does not have the time or energy to take on) to intentionally take your power back once it has been lost to a baboon.

The following video clip illustrates the rank between 2 sub-adult males in a troop. As the male with more influence walks closer to the other male, the lower ranking one walks away to show respect for the "higher"individual's position.

Our baboon neighbors work out a hierarchal relationship with us as well. Feeding baboons will ensure you lose your power and once this has occurred, you may need to ask a baboon behaviourist about the best way to gain your power back. However, it is preferable that you are aware and keep your power from the start when your baboon neighbors first begin to try and push boundaries.