Tail raising by baboon mothers toward immigrant males


  • Curt D. Busse

    1. Division of Environmental Studies, University of California, Davis, California 95616
    Current affiliation:
    1. Caribbean Primate Research Center, P.O. Box 906, Punta Santiago, PR 00741
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Behavioral responses of adult females to recently immigrated adult males were examined in two groups of chacma baboons in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Botswana. Mothers carrying infants respond negatively by raising their tails, avoiding, and screaming when in proximity to immigrant males. These responses are not given by mothers when their infants are away from them or by females who do not have infants. Also, the negative responses by mothers carrying infants are given only to immigrant males and not to long-term resident males. These observations are in concordance with the growing evidence of infanticide in savanna baboon societies: mothers would be expected to show negative responses to potentially aggressive males, particularly immigrants. There was evidence to suggest that mothers respond negatively to immigrants only insofar as these males could not have sired their infants. If confirmed by subsequent observations, this result would lend support to the sexual selection model of infanticide.