Tuesday, January 19

Damian's Pitch

There is a young adult male in the main troop named Damian - this is to say he is not a sub-adult, because he copulates with adult females, can vocalize full wahoo's, and most importantly, he wasn't born in the troop, he came from the outside. Damian is still a bit slim,  having yet to fill out his fluff like the more ripe adult males. This shouldn't fool you; he's not one to mess with.

Damian possesses strong aloofness: he sits away from the rest of the troop much of the time and doesn't deign to involve himself in the affairs of the everyday troop melodrama. Yet, one still finds him with occasional wounds no doubt obtained during heated male-on-male action. Bertrand and Chester have a lot of weight to throw around, but they are unquestionably the past; Aaron is unequivocal alpha. Aaron is not as spry as we once believed, however. Damian is image of the troop's future.

For some time, I felt that it was inevitable that Damian would usurp Aaron's position, probably during my stay here. Lately, a different strategy has emerged, and may remove any need for Aaron and Damian to battle over the coveted top slot.

Some time in the past few months, Damian took a liking to an unremarkable female named Lauren. It began with a standard consortship. Damian would follow Lauren's swollen rear-end through wood and bush, copulating to his heart's content. Usually a consortship lasts a few days, when the female's swelling is at its peak and the allure of the estrous aroma is irresistible. Damian's consortship persisted long after her swelling had begun to deflate... and just kept going.

The two are constant companions now. She has joined him in his little world away from the rest of the group. Recently a sub-adult female has joined them which is good for Lauren, otherwise she would have no social life. I've seen a couple other females visiting Damian on the outskirts, but none of the other adult females have joined his harem, yet.

This doesn't appear to be a typical strategy, as far as I'm aware. There are stories of how a big male once pulled away seven or eight females from a huge troop and started his own, mini-troop. This could be Damian's long term plan. In the meantime, he's yet to annoy Aaron past the point of no return.

Perhaps Damian is attempting to gather support, and once he has enough females backing him, he'll attempt to overthrow Aaron. I've not heard of such complexity in baboon social affairs. Usually, a new male will just fight with the old alpha until he wins or dies. Maybe Damian just doesn't care for society. He has a brooding look about him, accentuated by his thick mane of long black hair and missing right eye. He's isolated from support, but still not someone you would ever want to mess with. I think I've seen him get into a tussle with another adult only a couple of times. He's your token dark and mysterious guy.

What's in it for the females? Well, Damian basically gives exclusive attention to his entourage, and does not need to divide himself between 20 others like an alpha would. I have heard of this strategy, which basically amounts to what we humans would call "being a good father." Lauren has yet to bear Damian's child, however, so I can't pass judgment on how strong his paternal instinct is.

Taking the question further, why Lauren? What about this particular female made her follow Damian, and why did Damian choose her? Did she have little choice in the matter? Did Damian have little choice, taking whatever he could get?

At this point, the questions replicate upon themselves ad infinitum. I'll just have to keep observing and hope I see what happens, and then if I do see it, hope that I can understand the monkeys' subtleties.


  1. Careful where you tell that story. Stephenie Meyer might hear about it and then we're in for trouble all over again.

  2. Sorry to double post, but it only just occurred to me that given their past history, we can only assume that Damian keeps himself socially isolated because it's a well known fact that Damians and Baboons don't mix: