Filoha, Ethiopia

larissaswedell.org/filoha

Dr. Larissa Swedell coordinates the Filoha Hamadryas Project, based at the Filoha outpost in the far north of the Awash National Park in central Ethiopia. This project focuses on the behavioral biology and socioecology of wild hamadryas baboons. We are currently seeking students to join this project.

Photo credit: Larissa Swedell

The Filoha Hamadryas Project began with Larissa Swedell’s PhD research in 1996-1998, conducted in collaboration with the Awash National Park Baboon Research Project (co-directed by Cliff Jolly and Jane Phillips-Conroy), the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, Addis Ababa University, and Columbia University (where Swedell did her PhD work under the supervision of Marina Cords).  One habituated and fully-identified band of hamadryas baboons (‘Band 1’, originally called ‘Group 1’) has been the focus of intermittent study since 1998 and continuous observation since 2002.  Previous research at Filoha has focused on ranging patterns, feeding ecology, demography, female sociality, and female reproductive strategies; current and planned research at Filoha includes studies of male reproductive strategies, kinship patterns within and among social units, the adaptive value of female sociality, and vocal communication.  We are currently seeking highly motivated Ph.D. students to take on the following projects at Filoha:

(1) A detailed study of female sociality and bonding patterns in hamadryas baboons, with the goal of elucidating the adaptive value of sociality for hamadryas females.  This project would incorporate behavioral, genetic, and hormonal data and would link to a comparative study of hamadryas and geladas conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jacinta Beehner at the University of Michigan and Dr. Linda Vigilant at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

(2) A study of the nutritional ecology of hamadryas baboons, with the goal of elucidating the similarities and differences in diet selection between hamadryas and other baboons and adaptation of hamadryas baboons to their semi-desert habitat.  This project would be conducted in collaboration with NYCEP colleague Dr. Jessica Rothman at Hunter-College-CUNY.

 

The sister organization to the Filoha Hamadryas Project is the Save Awash National Park conservation project founded and operated by Dr. Mat Pines, the Filoha Hamadryas Project field manager and post-doctoral associate (www.save-awash-national-park.com).  The main goal of Save Awash National Park is to work with the local community and park authorities to improve the management and sustainability of the use of park resources so as to protect the flora and fauna of Awash National Park over the long term while contributing to local community development, education, and conservation awareness.

Loosely linked to the above projects is the Imfene Conservation and Education Initiative developed by Julian Saunders and Larissa Swedell (www.imfene.org).  Among the goals of Imfene are the dissemination of information about baboons and commensalism to the public in an effort to foster awareness of baboon ecology, the causes of commensalism, and what people living near baboons can do to mitigate commensalism and conflict.  More broadly, Imfene aims to improve the relationship between baboons and humans in Africa and thereby contribute to baboon conservation in particular and human conservation awareness in general.