Thursday, March 25

Troop Mind Journal 02/26

Sometimes accidents happen. The best of those are accidents where no one gets hurt, and I learn a thing or two about baboon movements and hierarchies.

It was a morning on the mountain like any other. I waited for the baboons to come down out of the trees where they slept. They'd been here for most of the days this week, so I felt I knew what to expect. They'd spend one, maybe two hours laying around at the edge of the forest. This was the place where a few weeks earlier, Aaron had created the "sloshing" effect.

Seemingly the opposite behavior possessed Aaron today. Where before he seemed content to lick Siri's heels for any length of time, on this morning, he came down from the trees before the sun had fully risen, and rolled on out of there. The alpha male walked deliberately. What was he going for? Had looked back on his path, it would have been a beeline - neither his bearing nor speed wavered in the slightest.

When he reached his destination about half a kilometer distant, Aaron sat down and began to eat. There was food sitting there, mostly fresh, though plain food. Too a baboon, delicious. I've no idea how it got there, it probably fell out the back of someone's truck. The food is irrelevant. The point is that Aaron went straight for a resource, and the entire troop followed after.

Yup, everyone came along. Aaron departed so quickly, I think the others may have been given a fright. After all, its not like Damian or Janny is going to defend the integrity of the troop. The rest of the group was a bit slower (Aaron took a maximum of 5 minutes to travel between point A and point B), but inevitably fell into line, and joined Aaron at the site of his treasure.

When Aaron had his fill of the food, he dropped the leftovers where he had found them and continued to move in a similar direction as he had originally. There was a waypoint nearby, which he appeared to be approaching. As soon as he left, Lottie came over and ate some, and was followed by Nadine (those two are known to be the first and second ranked female, respectively, largely thanks to incidents like this). Nadine might have been scared off, or perhaps just full, but next came Janny, and after his was a juvenile male, large but definitely not sub-adult yet. This guy had been circling the scene, waiting for a chance to slip in for a few bites. There wasn't much left after he'd satisfied himself, but a few smaller juveniles nevertheless spent ten minutes or so scouring the area for edible debris.

Certainly, the leftovers served as motivation for some of the troop members to follow. Still, only two females and two sub-adult males were able to pick over the remains, which weren't much. Aaron definitely appeared to exercise his power as "heart of the troop mind" in this instance. I doubt he saw the food first, but he was only baboon to make a dash for it. They might have been deferring to him from minute zero, knowing that in the end, he would get as much of the food as he wanted, no matter who made the initial move.

A new question arises: clearly Aaron has immense sway over the troop mind, as alpha, but how far does his influence extend? How many tyrannical movement decisions would he need to make before he began to lose power? Do they even need to be tyrannical? In this case, the benefit to Aaron was clearly worth the effort. But if he continues to assert his absolute dominance over the movements of the troop, when will the others get sick of him. Aaron is known for his easy-going nature, probably due to his extreme dominance as alpha, so as it stands, I might not get many chances to see Aaron truly throw his weight around.

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