The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Nocturnal leopard (Panthera pardus) predation risk for olive baboons (Papio anubis) in Kenya


1Anthropology, University of California, Davis, 2Animal Behavior Graduate Group, University of California, Davis, 3Graduate School of Tourism Sciences, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Baboons (Papio spp.) are well known for their use of steep cliffs and tall tress as sleeping sites, presumably to avoid predators. Descriptions of nocturnal visits by leopards to baboon sleeping sites and the fact that predation on baboons is rarely observed despite decades of extensive study suggest that baboons indeed face high risk of predation at night. However, there are relatively few data on the behavior of predators at baboon sleeping sites or on site choice by baboons that address nocturnal risk. To investigate the nocturnal dynamics between baboons and leopards we deployed GPS/radio collars on 1-2 individuals in four olive baboon groups and four leopards during a 14-month field study in Laikipia, Kenya. Three of the four baboon groups slept on cliff-side sites significantly more often than at riverine sites. Baboons may be reducing their use of riverine sleeping sites to minimize exposure to leopards as collared leopards were 12 times more likely to visit riverine than cliff-side sites at night. Collared leopards visited cliff-side sites at night more often when baboons were at these sites than when they were absent but visited riverine sites more often when baboons were absent than when they were present. This suggests that leopards seek out opportunities to kill baboons near cliff-side sites. These findings and the fact that the three known leopard predation events on baboons during our study occurred at night at both riverine and cliff-side sites provide strong evidence that baboons face significant nocturnal predation risk from leopards.

This project was funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS 1266389), L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and UC Davis Faculty Research Grants.