An update from our Primate Release Project Manager, Amanda, on a new addition to the troop!
The past few weeks have been exciting in Kasungu National Park for the primate release team. After an encounter with a neighboring wild troop of baboons, a wild male baboon was spotted leaving his natal troop and following ours instead. It is common amongst baboons that sub-adult and even adult males will leave the troop they grew up with and join another troop. This, of course, enables the necessary genetic diversity of the species. He’s a sub-adult, only slightly larger than our own sub-adult male, Bruiser, and only slightly smaller than our adult male, John. He’s very healthy looking and also very orange in color! He has seamlessly joined our little troop, with virtually no aggression at all between him and the others, even the males. The troop took to following him right away, as they trust he knows all the good food spots. I’ve taken to calling him Roman, a sly tribute to my undergraduate Classics degree. Our team has been excitedly watching this immigration take place! The baboons are even further on their way to being successfully released, now that there is an experienced, truly wild, baboon taking over the reigns, as they continue to explore their new home.
In other baboon release news, Jojo continues to do very well! A few weeks into her re-release, she is better than ever. She eats constantly, with newly blooming flowers being her particular favorite. She has gained weight the past few weeks, which seems to surprise her, as smaller branches often break under her newfound heaviness and she clumsily falls to the ground! Baby Tosca is also growing rapidly. She is now weaned from her mother, Wendy, as she spends all day walking on her own rather than riding on her mother’s back, and eats all natural foods. She’s a goofy kid who often hop-runs through the tall grass to keep up with the troop. The baboons lately have been finding trees that produce a delicious sweet sap, which sends most of them into a tree-biting frenzy. As the rainy season is winding down, the troop is slowly increasing their foraging range and are always finding new exciting foods. The baboons are always such fun to watch, especially as the troop continues to evolve and adapt to life in the bush.
Photos of Roman, Jojo and little Tosca below. Photo credits: Amanda Harwood