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Biodiversity conservation is a growth industry. Controversies abound over approaches and philosophies and about whose rights and whose ethics should apply. In this chapter we address some of these issues based on 38 of our 42 years of experience on the ground, conserving baboons in the face of threats resulting from change in land use, rapid human population growth, escalating rates of poverty, sedentarization of people, and human–baboon conflict – over crops and livestock. One of our strategies has been to promote primate-based tourism. “Walking with Baboons,” our ecotourism product, is distinctly different from other well-known types of primate tourism because it takes place in the arid savannah, in contrast to the more usual forest-based primate tours. The project is located in Kenya which has a well-developed tourism industry with a history of ecotourism among Maasai livestock pastoralists who traditionally were not hostile to baboons.
The baboon ecotourism venture came late in the history of the long-term baboon research. Moreover, it has unique aspects that may not be replicable in other primate settings. Nonetheless, we have been successful in building conservation momentum within the neighboring community. Unintentionally, we expanded and intensified our interactions with it not just around primate-focused tourism but in areas of mutual interest and concern. The process built inter-individual and inter-community bonds which increased the community’s motivation to conserve. We discovered that activities apparently tangential to conservation can make important contributions. This implies that, to succeed as a conservation technique, primate ecotourism needs to be embedded in the larger local social and cultural contexts. This chapter presents the larger context for “Walking with Baboons” as well as the specifics.
The discovery of primate social complexity during the last 20 years stimulated a reinterpretation of the nature and evolution of primate intelligence. In this chapter we attempt to do three things. Firstly we present a short background highlighting some inherent difficulties with the current ‘social complexity/cognition’ model from which the Machiavellian Intelligence hypothesis derives. Next we explore the consequences of these problematic issues with data on sexual consorts in baboons. Finally we present another way to frame the social complexity/cognition link that we feel has the potential to more fully explain our consort data and to resolve some of the inherent ambiguities in the social complexity model of intelligence. In the process we are left to wonder whether Machiavellian intelligence is really ‘Machiavellian’.
The intellectual events that culminated in the Machiavellian Intelligence hypothesis look slightly different from the description offered by Byrne and Whiten (Chapter 1) when seen from the perspective of primate field studies (Strum & Fedigan, 1997). This vantage point may help to explain why the Chance–Jolly–Kummer—Humphrey (Chance & Mead, 1953; Jolly, 1966; Kummer, 1967; Humphrey, 1976) hypotheses about ‘social intelligence’ did not actually begin to constitute a ‘domain’ of knowledge and research for nearly 20 years. Field data and shifts in theoretical orientations were crucial. Long-term studies of chimpanzees (see Goodall, 1986 and references therein) and baboons (Altmann, 1980; Ransom, 1981; Strum, 1981; Stein, 1984), in particular, documented an array of social relationships. These were initially treated as mere ‘social noise‘ resulting from many social animals living together (e.g. Ransom & Ransom, 1971; Ransom, 1981; Goodall 1986).