Internationally recognized primatologist and baboon expert, Professor Shirley Strum, will present a talk entitled:  “The good, the bad, and the smart”: what makes baboons so difficult to manage?

Date: Thursday the 23rd February 2012 at  6:30 for 7pm,  The Range, Tokai

Strum’s talk will include lessons learnt from raiding baboons in Kenya. She will bring an expert, outsider’s perspective on current management challenges of the Peninsula baboon population.

A panel comprising representatives of the Baboon Conservation Authorities, the Baboon Liaison Group and the Baboon Research Unit (UCT) will then enter into a discussion with the public on their respective roles in current and future management of the Peninsula baboons. Topics covered will be the latest research, increasing public awareness and how best to reduce conflict between baboons and the residents of Cape Town living adjacent to baboon home ranges. 

For a reportback on her talk and the ensuing discussion go to:  Extract:   “Your Cape Peninsula Baboons have gone far beyond the performance, in terms of strategic thinking, of any others in the world! ” The Baboon Liaison Group invited Dr.Strum international baboon expert with 38 yrs of research experience to share her knowledge. She explained that from a baboon point of view, raiding is not aberrant behaviour but simply a highly remunerative form of foraging. She opened the discussion about a more assertive approach to keeping baboons out of residential areas. The key issue from a baboon’s point of view is that of reward vs risk – which is also the key to finding a management strategy. 

Shirley Strum

Shirley C. Strum received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. A biological anthropologist specializing in primate studies, conservation, and science studies, Strum has studied one population of baboons in Kenya for 38 years. During that time her research has focused on:

  • aggression and male dominance
  • sex roles and social organization
  • social strategies of competition and defense
  • cognition in the wild
  • socioecology, and the use of nonhuman primate behavior in evolutionary interpretations

Since 1979, she has also been involved in conservation, studying the development of crop-raiding by baboons and techniques for controlling pest primates, exploring translocation as a conservation tool, and developing and implementing “community-based conservation” techniques.

Her conservation interests include environmental ethics, concepts of nature, cultural issues involved in modern conservation and evolution of social complexity. She teaches “Conservation and the Human Predicament”, a course with a multi-disciplinary approach.

In addition to a variety of professional journals her work can also be seen in The National Geogaphic Magazine, Natural History, and Wildlife Conservation. Almost Human (originally published by Random House, 1987, and currently in paperback by Norton and in foreign language editions in French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish and Japanese) presents the unfolding scientific drama of the baboon research.

Strum divides her year between Kenya and UCSD and is resident for the Spring term only.