Original Article


, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 249-252

First online:

Not without a fair fight: failed abductions of females in wild hamadryas baboons

  • Mathew PinesAffiliated withFiloha Hamadryas Project
  • , Larissa SwedellAffiliated withFiloha Hamadryas ProjectDepartment of Anthropology, Queens College, City University of New YorkNew York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology Email author 

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In contrast to other papionin monkeys, hamadryas baboons are characterized by female-biased dispersal. Given that hamadryas females do not disperse voluntarily, one mechanism for female transfer between bands is thought to be abductions during aggressive intergroup conflict. To date, however, no successful abductions have been witnessed. We describe three abduction events at the Filoha field site in Ethiopia, two interband and one intraband, in which the abductors successfully separated a female from her leader male for several minutes or hours. In each case, the original leader male located the abductor and retrieved the female, even if it involved entering the social sphere of another band. These observations suggest that a hamadryas leader male will risk injury and loss of additional females in his attempt to retrieve a female from an abductor unless the abductor has openly challenged the leader for possession of his female and physically defeated him.


Male reproductive strategies Sexual coercion Male competition Female transfer Intergroup encounters Multilevel society Modular society