Meet Our Kinda Baboon Group
Over the past five months together with my scouts Kingston Muma and George Nkhoma I have been following one group of baboons in Kasanka National Park. Our goal has been to habituate the baboons, or rather get them used to our presence so that we can follow them at close range. There are many techniques we use to habituate the group. Initially as they are wary of us we followed them as much as possible. The best way to keep track of the troop is to find where they are sleeping and go to them in the morning before they wake up. At the beginning the Fibwe Group allowed us to watch them in the morning while they sunned and groomed. Eventually, they allowed us to follow them as they moved away from their sleeping grove and began their day.
Baboons typically do one of four things: they rest, they travel, they eat, and they socialize. The amount of time they spend doing each activity varies. Factors that affect their activity patterns include time of day, weather, and season. After five hard months of following the Fibwe Group we are now able stay with them throughout the day and observe their behavior at close range.
In order to identify individuals, which is pertinent to our data collection, we have given them names. At first the baboons were hard to tell apart but with time we have been able to recognize them individually. Scars, fur coloration, size, and facial differences are ways in which we can identify an individual. Of course each baboon has its own personality and as we get to know them their behavior also helps us to identify them.
The Fibwe Group has 53 individuals: 13 adult females, 9 adult males, 7 infants, 15 juveniles, and 9 subadults. Below are a number of individuals in the group.
MJ is Mowgly’s mother; they spend most of their time together. Clover is the proud mother of a bright white infant named Nona. Muma is our dominant male and was named by my ZAWA scout Kingston. Oliver is a young infant who loves to escape his mothers grasp to climb and play. Orion, Beth, and Jack are a “family” unit. Orion stays by Beth’s side and often grooms her. Z. and Willy are two male juveniles that are always found playing and grooming together.
Now that we have habituated the baboons and can identify individuals, the next step of our project, formal data collection, will begin.
US Fulbright Scholar Kasanka Baboon Project
Doctoral Candidate Department of Anthropology