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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Yellow baboon mating behaviour

Sarah educating interns
Yellow baboons are quite common in Shimoni and are commonly regarded as infamous pests that are brazen enough to steal food from inside a human dwelling. Yet however obnoxious they may become they remain fascinating from a primate behavioural standpoint. Mating behaviour in particular, is especially interesting and has even been observed from the back garden of the GVI Shimoni house.

Baboons with young
Mating occurs year round in Yellow baboon troupes although not all females come into estrus at the same time. Resource availability and nutrition play a large role in determining the timing of mating activity so that it most often occurs when food availability is quite high, such as after the rainy season. Receptive females exhibit two physical signs: menstruation and red swelling of the hairless area of the rump. Females are most swollen at the peak of their sexual receptivity. Once pregnant, the gestation period lasts 180 and days and the average interbirth interval is 1.78 years although males may stimulate estrus in females after committing infanticide.

Baboon with a papaya fruit
When a female comes into estrus multiple males in the troupe may attempt to monopolize the female either by engaging in courtship behaviour or by physically guarding her from other males in the troop. It is not unusual for male-male conflicts to occur while one or more females are ovulating. During such conflicts males communicate aggression to each other by flashing the whites of their eyelids, baring their large canines, and vocalizing. Encounters with Yellow baboons are always lively and entertaining but the prudent primate observer should always keep a fair bit of distance between himself the Yellow baboon when disputes over females are prone to erupt.