14th July 2010
Tomorrow is the start of our week long mid-season break. Apologies for the lack of baboon news over the last few weeks but life here has been hectic! We’re all somewhat amazed that 11 weeks has passed since we arrived.
There’s only one was to describe the last few weeks: a baby-fest. In the last month there have been five births. Three in L troop and two in J troop.
In L, Myra was first giving birth to a little boy about three weeks ago. This has unfortunately made her super-paranoid that we’re all out to steal her baby and consequently she will scream at you for anything (even just standing still). Focal follows on her now involve a lot of guile and pretending to actually be looking at and following the baboon/tree/rock next to her. Salmonella gave birth to a little boy a day later. I was very excited – she’s my favourite – but tragically he didn’t survive his first night. Rather gruesomely she spent the next four days carrying the corpse around which rather rapidly transformed into a bag of skin and bone that was barely recognisable as an infant baboon. Finally, and more recently, Rubella gave birth to (another!) boy. Unusually this happened in the late afternoon, rather than at night. AJ was following the troop and saw her get chased under a rock baby-less and emerge a while later with a baby! Compared to Myra (her mother) she is a lot calmer with us around her and her baby. As of yet the infant still clings to her but should be making its first steps over the break.
In J, Libreville and Mbabame have new babies. Matt witnessed Libreville giving birth – something the Project’s field teams have only seen once before – so we’re all very envious. Being the top and bottom ranked females their stories couldn’t be more different. Libreville’s little girl may well end up being the dominant female on day.
For the time being she is still very dependent on her mother but no one argues with Libreville – especially down on the feeding site. In contrast Mbabame is having to put up with every adult and juvenile female touching, pulling, inspecting and generally bothering her and her infant. I've never seen a baboon look so tense whilst being groomed! Nonetheless, its still an improvement on last year when she aborted after Dave pushed her out of a tree.
In other news, Mogadishu has left J troop to join UnDave, Dar and possibly Khartoum in Habi-troop. Habi-troop is getting very full of males (five at the last count)! After being repeatedly kicked off the feeding site by L Dave got fed up and taught Cholera a lesson. He’s now got a big whole in his cheek pouch as well as numerous other scars. It’s a bit tragically comical – much of the food he eats come back out though the hole only for him to put it back in his mouth again, only for it to come out again…etc, etc.
This evening is the mid-season braai and party followed by a week off (and the opportunity to sleep after 7am!). We’ll be back on the 23rd for the second half of the season. Very odd to have left the baboons during the middle of the day – they didn’t look too fussed. Fingers crossed they’ll be easy to re-find when we get back!
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