Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Wolves are better hunters when monkeys are around

An unexpected co-existence in the Ethiopian highlands

Date:June 22, 2015

Source:Dartmouth College

Summary:Through a rare mixed-species association observed between a carnivorous predator and a potential prey, biologists have identified that solitary Ethiopian wolves will forage for rodents among grazing gelada monkey herds. Through consistent non-threatening behavior, the Ethiopian wolves have habituated gelada herds to their presence, foregoing opportunities to attack the juvenile geladas in order to better capture the rodents.

Gelada monkeys are a close relative of baboons. As grazing primates, they eat grass and some herbs. They live in large herds, between 200-1000 individuals. Ethiopian wolves are the rarest canids in the world, with only between 300-500 individuals remaining in the wild. These wolves are rodent specialists. Both geladas and Ethiopian wolves are endangered and endemic to the Ethiopian highlands.

Through extensive data collection from all-day follows on the Guassa Plateau in north central Ethiopia from 2006 to 2011, researchers studied a band of approximately 200 gelada monkeys, who regularly associate with the wolves living in the area.

According to the study's findings, gelada monkeys would not typically move upon encountering Ethiopian wolves, even when they were in the middle of the herd -- 68 percent of encounters resulted in no movement and only 11 percent resulted in a movement of greater than 10 meters. In stark contrast, the geladas always fled great distances to the cliffs for safety whenever they encountered aggressive domestic dogs.

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