Namibia

Tsaobis Baboon Project

Karate baboon silhouette.
Juvenile baboon silhouette (Picture by Miquel Torrents-Ticó)

   During my time in the project I collected data to investigate how social information transfers through wild primate networks. The aim was to understand how the social environment influences the use of social information in a wild primate, the chacma baboon (Papio ursinus). I used a combination of detailed observational data and field experiments to investigate the role of alternative social networks in determining from whom individuals acquire and use different types of social information. Data collection was carried out on foot and required full-day follows of the study troops. The day started at early morning (e.g. 5am), and over the course of the day, I was likely to walk several kilometers as I accompanied the baboons on their foraging route until they reach their sleeping cliff at dusk (e.g. 6pm).

The Tsaobis Baboon Project is a long-term study of a wild desert baboon population at the edge of the Namib Desert, Namibia.  The Project is based at the Institute of Zoology, the research arm of the Zoological Society of London.

The study area is a beautiful desert wilderness. The key feature is the dry river bed (Swakop River) and its associated woodlands, where baboons carry out most of their foraging. Closely to the south of the riverbed, sleeping cliffs of the baboons are found to avoid predators. Alongside baboons, the area is home to a diversity of wildlife including mountain zebra (Equus zebra), gemsbok (Oryx gazella), springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus). Occasionally, you can spot some predators including black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) and leopard (Panthera pardus). Furthermore, venomous snakes are relatively common, such as black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), spitting cobra (i.e. zebra snake), puff adder (Bitis arietans) and horned adder (Bitis caudalis).

 

Tsaobis Baboon Project