Indexed on: 15 Sep '07Published on: 15 Sep '07Published in: American Journal of Primatology
This study describes natal attraction and infant handling in wild ursine colobus (Colobus vellerosus). Focal animal samples were collected from five infants of 1-16 weeks of age (mean: 14.5 focal hours per infant). Group members may be attracted to an infant, but unable to handle it because of resistance from the mother. We thus measured natal attraction independently from infant handling by the number of interactive approaches received. The youngest infants were most attractive. Immature females were attracted to and handled infants more than other group members. Mothers were tolerant of most handling attempts and infant-directed aggression was rare. A sixth infant was attacked by members of an all-male band, which allowed us to record the expression of natal attraction and infant handling in the context of an acute threat of infanticide. This infant was carried by non-mothers less frequently than the other infants, and its mother resisted handling attempts more often.