Wednesday, May 5

When you're on top

From my perspective, the scene began with Punzle and a sub-adult male having a spat. Punzle probably started it; she's known for being mean to anyone she can push around. Luckily for her, she's quite high up there in the ranks, so seldom does a day go by that she doesn't mess with someone who probably doesn't deserve the magnitude of grief she gives.

As usual for females, Punzle was shrieking at the guy while he silently threatened her, and pushed her back. He was much larger, and despite her rank, his physical presence was something that could not be ignored.

But rank did come in handy, since a minute, Queen Lottie, overlady of the entire troop, arrived. She and Punzle appear to be on good terms, most of the time. Today Lottie appeared early in the fight, to back up Punzle. The female screams doubled in magnitude, but the sub-adult was not particularly perturbed. This guy was not just some juvenile - any day now, he could pack up and leave for another troop, ready to begin working on his career as a full fledged adult.

With him pitted against two females, the match appeared even. Lottie and Punzle would drive him back a bit, but the next moment, the male would lunge and the pair of females would retreat. Ultimately, the females appeared to be losing ground.

So, they resorted to blatant social manipulation. Aaron was lying about 30 meters away, and today he didn't seem to care about the fight at all. I would say that about two-thirds of the time, he ignores the melodrama. Aaron's behavior didn't change a bit, today. What changed was Lottie and Punzle proximity to the massive alpha. One of their retreats turned into an about-face, and ended with them standing below the rock upon which Aaron lazed.

The sub-adult found himself in a quandary. He obviously was quite annoyed at the females to have persisted this long, but now he risked arousing the rage of Aaron. Despite appearing not to care (from my perspective), baboon moods can change suddenly. Lottie and Punzle were two of Aaron's favorite females, so the sub-adult could only push so far.

The three stood at an impasse for a couple of minutes. Lottie and Punzle continued to scream, though less often and at lower volume than previously. The male continued to threaten, but kept his distance to at least ten meters, much further than he had previously dared to venture. It was if Aaron's body generated an invisible perimeter which the younger baboon knew he could not cross. In the end, the sub-adult male gave up and moved on with his day, leaving Punzle and Lottie alone.

The females triumphed. However, there are very few females in the troop who could have pulled such a stunt. Suffice to say, its good to be a top ranked female.

Woah, how is it May already?

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