Why we groom our partners
Are you a groomer? Dr. Jennifer Verdolin from Wild Connections talked to Dr. Susan Alberts about grooming in baboons.
The baboon troop
An old Amboseli video by Irv DeVore with was part of the curriculum Man: A Course of Study (MACOS). The movie was created for the social studies curriculum and was created by the NSF and the Ford foundation.
ABRP GPS tracking of baboon social groups
For nearly 900 days, beginning in March 2008, the Amboseli Baboon Research Project tracked the daily travel of 5 yellow baboon social groups. Using pre-programmed GPS collars, we automatically recorded the hourly locations of each social group from 6am until 7pm. Through this study and other ABRP projects, we're gaining insight into how social and ecological factors influence the movement patterns of wild primates.
A wounded baboon male
While observing the Amboseli baboons, we watch for and note wounds and pathologies. This male has been wounded, causing him to limp.
Young baboons playing
Just like human children, baboon juveniles like to play together!
Baboons eating meat
In addition to whatever fruits and other plants that a baboon eats, baboons also eat meat. They eat whatever meat they can find, including birds, eggs, hares, vervet monkeys, and gazelles (as shown here).
Morning grove descent
At the end of each day, a baboon group will stop at a grove of trees and ascend into its branches, where they'll spend the night safe from predators. The group descends in the morning, roughly near sunrise. When possible, we try to begin observation on a group early enough in the day to see their descent, or end observation late enough to see their ascent.
As in other primates, social interactions between baboons includes lots and lots of grooming. These interactions reinforce social bonds between individuals, and promote greater health. On average, our field observers see ~50 groomings each day.
Foraging for food
Each day, a baboon spends a significant portion of its day foraging for food, often fruits and leaves.
Like any other organism, baboons need to drink plenty of water. We often see them drinking from lakes and ponds, man-made water holes, or even pools of rainwater.
Consorts and Mounts
Warning for parents: certain "facts of life" are portrayed in this video! Judging by a female's swollen sex skin, a male baboon is able to recognize when she's most likely to become impregnated. During this time, a male will "consort" the female: he stays near her, mounts her often, and "guards" her from other males' attempts to do the same.
Baboon social interactions aren't limited to grooming. There are also more agonistic, aggressive interactions that occur regularly. These may include intense bursts of violence, or more-subtle interactions like when low-ranking individuals submit or flee at the approach of higher-ranking individuals. Including these more-subtle interactions, our field observers see well over 100 agonistic interactions on average each day
Juvenile baboon nursing
A juvenile baboon usually nurses its mother for the first ~1.5 years of its life. Even when not nursing, the juvenile spends a lot of its time closely attached to its mother, as shown here.