Not without a fair fight: failed abductions of females in wild hamadryas baboons
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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.
KeywordsMale reproductive strategies Sexual coercion Male competition Female transfer Intergroup encounters Multilevel society Modular society
We are grateful to the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the PSC-CUNY Research Award Program for funding this research. We are also grateful to the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), City University of New York, the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, and the Awash National Park Baboon Research Project for their cooperation and affiliation. We thank Teklu Tesfaye, Brittany Davis, Amy Schreier, and Julian Saunders for their contributions to the ongoing data collection for the Filoha Hamadryas Project and Helga Peters for permission to use her photo. Finally, we thank Teklu Tesfaye, Demekech W/aregay, and the staff of Awash National Park for their logistical support. This research was approved by and complied with regulations of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and the Queens College Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
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