Home Institution

University of Oregon

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


This study investigated the infant-directed behaviors of adult male and female olive baboons in Randilen Wildlife Management Area in April of 2022. The objectives were 1) To determine the difference between olive baboon males and females in frequency and duration of listed behaviors towards infants; 2) To classify the interactions of adult male and adult female olive baboons with infants as either primarily affiliative or primarily aggressive; 3) To determine the frequency of selected behaviors at different reproductive phases (lactation, estrus, neutral, indeterminant) amongst female olive baboons towards infants. A single baboon troop in Randilen Wildlife Management Area was observed over 8 days using continuous focal sampling.

It was found that females had a significantly greater quantity of affiliative interactions with infants than males (Degrees of Freedom=1, N=2, Fisher’s Exact Test, p=0.0004). Females also spent significantly more time performing the behaviors ventral cling (Mann-Whitney U Test, p<0.0001), huddle (Man-Whitney U Test, p<0.0001), groom (Man-Whitney U Test, p=0.017), and carry (Man-Whitney U Test, p=0.017), with infants than males with infants. There was not a statistically significant difference in the durations males and females spent in proximity to infants (Man-Whitney U Test, p= 0.498). Both females and males had primarily affiliative relationships with infants (male-to-infant behaviors= 86.27% affiliative; female-to-infant behaviors= 100% affiliative). There was a significant difference in affiliative behaviors of females at different reproductive phases (Degrees of Freedom=1, N=2, Chi-squared Test, p<0.05). Females in estrus had proportionally more “Contact” behaviors versus “No Contact” behaviors than neutral females (Degrees of Freedom=1, N=2, Fisher’s Exact Test, p=0.047) and lactating females did not have significantly different affiliative behaviors compared to neutral females. Lactating females performed the most affiliative behaviors on average (average number of affiliative behaviors: Lactating= 8.75, Estrus= 2, Neutral= 1.94).

Recommendations for future research include repeating this study with a greater sample size and longer observation period. This study could also be performed with infants as the focal subjects. Rather than observing and recording observations of a focal adult interacting with infants, more meaningful data might be drawn from recording how a focal infant interacts with male and female adults. More data could potentially be collected and fewer interactions between infants and adults would be overlooked.


African Studies | Animal Studies | Research Methods in Life Sciences | Zoology


Article Location