Monday, 23 January 2017

Why baboon males resort to domestic violence

Scarcity drives some baboon males to attack and kill infants of their own kind 
 
Date: January 18, 2017
Source: Duke University

"Desperate times lead to desperate measures," so the saying goes, and a new study finds male baboons are no exception.

Some baboon males vying for a chance to father their own offspring expedite matters in a gruesome way -- they kill infants sired by other males and attack pregnant females, causing them to miscarry, researchers report.

The behavior reduces their waiting time to breed with pregnant and nursing females, who otherwise wouldn't become sexually available again for up to a year.

The perpetrators are more prone to commit domestic violence when forced to move into a group with few fertile females, said first author Matthew Zipple, a graduate student in professor Susan Albert's lab at Duke University.

Researchers studying a baboon population around Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya found that immigrant males were responsible for roughly 2 percent of infant deaths and 6 percent of miscarriages between 1978 and 2015. But when cycling females were few, the death rates more than tripled.

Continued

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