At the Alldays Wildlife and Communities Research Centre, we are busy finding out which of the locally grown crops are most preferred by baboons. This is important information to know when developing an effective mitigation method, as something that successfully deters a baboon from their least preferred crop meal, may not work on their favourite item. We are therefore spending some time to determine which crop is in fact the baboons first choice. To do this we are running a series of experiments where we provide the baboons with a choice of two crops each day. By recording which crops the baboons eat first, and how much of the crop is left over when the baboons leave, we are able to figure out a hierarchy for crop preferences.
This baboon clearly prefers the crop in the green buckets.
We are currently testing 12 locally grown crops, so this requires many days of testing. We also replicate each crop pair test five times, to ensure that our data aren’t just an anomaly. With a whole group visiting our test site each day, we have a number of baboons showing us their preferences, and with a bit of data analysis we can be sure we are getting accurate results.
However, the baboons do not always bring their table manners along!
My mother taught me not to play with my food, but she didn’t tell me not to get IN it!
The crops we are testing are: butternut squash, tomato, potato, melon, pepper, chilli, maize (also known as mealies), pattipan, watermelon, baby marrow, onion and tobacco. Why don’t you have a guess at what the outcome will be? Simply list the crops in the order that you think baboons would most prefer in the comments section. And if you are a crop farmer yourself, let us know as we would love to use your opinion in our research. When the results are in we will let you know!