The Incredible Adventures of a Primatologist | EUROtoday

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Yakushima is an island categorized as a UNESCO pure heritage web site, whose moss forest impressed the landscapes of Princess Mononoke of Miyazaki. But Cédric Sueur and his crew didn’t come to this paradise of white sand and historic cedars to do movie tourism. “We got here to see the well-known rodeo conduct of monkeys on sika deer. Indeed, in a number of locations in Japan, monkeys are noticed driving deer like cowboys. Monkeys groom deer and ingest ticks, fleas, or lice, essential sources of protein. And at one level on this story the monkey rode the horse. »

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How did this custom unfold? Why did the monkey mount the deer? Was this monkey a particular particular person throughout the group? An innovator corresponding to a Bob Dylan or one Bill Gates in people? These questions stay fascinating enigmas for Cédric Sueur, who relates in The Adventures of a Primatologist (Odile Jacob, 2024), his adventures as a researcher, wealthy, enlightening, daring, in a easy, concrete and humorous type.

Animals put up votes

Cédric Sueur is a teacher-researcher in ethology and primatology on the University of Strasbourg. His analysis focuses on the drawings of nice apes, the collective actions of baboons, the social networks of macaques and vervets. He notably confirmed that the seasons have an affect on the colour of the drawings made by Molly, orangutan feminine from the Tama Zoo in Japan who created multiple thousand 300 drawings in ten years. She prefers to make use of inexperienced in summer time and winter, pink in spring and autumn.

Among the chacma baboons of South Africa, his research present that the dominant males usually are not all the time the leaders. In macaques, of which he observes a number of species, in Japan and South Africa, he reveals, combining area analysis and computational mannequin, that management is much less influenced by the dominance standing of males than by their dietary wants.

Evolution led to animal democracy lengthy earlier than people arrived on Earth.

Even although a single particular person initiates 90% of journeys, choices usually are not imposed on them, however proposed. A pacesetter can’t be a dictator. Too oppressed, animals revolt once they not have entry to meals. “In such a case,” explains the researcher, “the dictator loses his group, is ejected from his position, or dies. It is therefore in his best interest to find a balance. Evolution led to animal democracy long before humans arrived on earth. » Lots of animals, gorillas to bison, set up negotiation and voting processes which are manifested by vocalizations or “notification” behaviors, similar to getting up, shifting ahead one meter and turning round.

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“He who flees is the one dominated”

In this e book, the creator returns to this work, whereas revealing behind the scenes of the analysis, the typically troublesome working situations, the executive burdens and the scientific competitors surrounding the examine of primates, and even the way forward for the self-discipline. It takes nice ardour and unfailing persistence to review monkeys who’re typically too intelligent for the experimental units or who’ve taken a dislike to the researcher for an unknown motive.

When confronted with an offended primate, Cédric Sueur recommends to not run away. “Fleeing from macaques means being caught and bitten. Even more, it means never being able to enter the park again, because the one who flees is the one dominated. » On the contrary, it is essential to calm the animal using communication signals specific to its species. For example, in macaques, lip smacks similar to kisses can be effective in relieving tension. “In rhesus macaques, on the other hand, reconciliation is not possible. It's a bit as if you were Zelenskythe Ukrainian president, finding himself faced with Poutine, the Russian president. »

Being a primatologist is an adventure profession, where the scientist must face the transformation of conservation and research sites into tourist attraction parks, as well as the “colonialist management of nature”. The creator evokes a poignant instance of this actuality. “In 2018, I rode on the trails of Malawi's national parks, observing baboons and vervets. These roads are covered with the blood of three hundred inhabitants who did not want to leave the village. The rangers killed them and raped more than two hundred women. » This drama highlights the complex challenges primatologists face in their field work.

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If Jane Goodall had grown up in our time…

Imbued by his years of adventure, the author expresses his concerns regarding the reluctance of universities. “Sending a master's student for an internship abroad becomes as difficult as Asterix's quest to find the A38 pass. If Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey had grown up in this day and age, HR would have stopped them from going into the field. »

In the final chapter, titled “I Am Legend,” the creator takes a darkish take a look at his legacy as a scientist. “I wished to do analysis on primates to point out our similarities and the significance of saving them, however this analysis itself endangers the atmosphere through which they dwell. » He then imagines himself in a hypothetical future the place he’s not a primatologist, as a result of there are merely no extra monkeys to review, apart from China, the one nation to take care of primates of their wild atmosphere. , however the place overseas scientists are excluded from analysis. Let's hope his pessimistic imaginative and prescient doesn't come to fruition.

The Adventures of a Primatologistby Cédric Sueur, Odile Jacob, 22.90 euros.

https://www.lepoint.fr/environnement/les-incroyables-aventures-d-un-primatologue-14-04-2024-2557613_1927.php