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peacemaker Best of friends The best of friends. Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock

For us humans, getting involved in an aggressive conflict can be costly, not only because of the risk of injury and stress but also because it can damage precious social relationships between friends – and the same goes for monkeys and apes.

Just like humans, they also form selective long-term bonds. And in the primate world, aggression is especially harmful to these relationships because of tolerance reach breakpoint and so the rate of friendly interactions.

Like human families, for monkeys and apes, the day-to-day business of living in a group inevitably brings quarrels. Disputes could be over trivial matters such as who gets the shady spot to rest in, who’s in charge, who to groom, who to mate with, who to huddle up within the cold or where to feed? Life is not easy and mostly unfair But luckily, primates have a whole arsenal of strategies up their sleeves to forestall or lighten the costs of aggression.

They will simply submit and thereby calming tensions before they spiral out of control. But if aggression is unavoidable and a fight occurs primates can also repair their relationship through reconciliation and thus helping re-establish friendly contact.

Conflict resolution

Reconciliatory behaviour was first recognised by Frans de Waal in the 1970s in a seminal study of post-conflict behaviour in chimpanzees. On the surface, reconciliation boils down to friendly contact between opponents soon after a fight but it also seems to do more than just end the conflict.

Peacemaker Best of friends Nick Fox Shutterstock‘Hi friend’. Nick Fox/Shutterstock

Anxiety levels in primates after fights are related to the quality of the relationships between the former opponents. Among humans, this makes perfect sense, if you argue with a close friend, you’re much more stressed than if you’ve argued with a passing acquaintance.

Making amends

Friendships improve health and increase survival and reproductive success in many species, such as dolphins, horses, birds and primates, so it’s not surprising that mechanisms have evolved to alleviate damage to a relationship caused by aggression.

The fact that reconciliation is common to many social species shows how deep-rooted our own tendency is for peace-making. But it would seem that some techniques are actually learned rather than innately acquired.

Frans de Waal showed that the reconciliatory behaviour of quarrelsome, juvenile rhesus macaques, could be increased threefold after a few months of co-housing with more easygoing, peacemaking stumptail macaques.

Peacemaker Give us a kiss olga shutterstockGive us a kiss’. olga_gl/Shutterstock

Showing empathy and condolence are social skills that juvenile acquires only through experience, rather than an inborn behaviour.

Indeed, adult chimpanzees often reconcile using grooming and even a  mouth-to-mouth kiss. Young chimpanzees reconciled the best way they know how – through play.

Monkeying around

Friends who bathe together stay together. norikko ShutterstockFriends who bathe together stay together. norikko/Shutterstock

When it comes to us humans, while we probably don’t fancy grooming every person we’ve fallen out with – or kissing them – it’s clear that when it comes to settling arguments, both species prefer peacemaking.

 So next time you fall out with your co-worker maybe try as the primates do and work on that conflict resolution – a bit of lip-smacking, a bit of a back scratch and hopefully you’ll be friends again in no time.


Read the full in  The Conversation 


 Spider Monkeys eating

Some trees have a most peculiar effect on those that visit them. The web of life in forests are so complex that we still do not understand all that is going on. But there is one creature enlisted by the trees whose life is so closely entwined that many forest trees would disappear without its cooperation.

Through their role in seed dispersal, spider monkeys have a capacity to help regenerate rainforests. It is believed that some seeds, like dialium, rely on being passed through a spider monkey’s stomach in order to regenerate.

Hanging by long tails from a high branch it is easy to see the black spider shape that's prompted the forest Indians to give the monkey its name. Spider monkeys spend their whole lives high up in the rainforest canopy eating fruit but as with everything it is not that simple. Their prehensile tail is the longest in the world.

Tripadvisor review Candice Young 2

Well here's the confusing but honest truth I am not one for Zoo's, I tend to find the confinement somewhat disturbing and console myself by saying there's no other way these animals could possibly be put back into the wild.

HOWEVER bush babies monkey sanctuary is no zoo!

They animals are free to roam an amazing amount of space, natural space - you, as the tourist is the outsider invading their environment and the guides ensure only small groups are taken in over periods conducive to the animals' well-being.
They rehabilitate monkeys, lemurs and apes.
They take in wild ones too 

It is here where I truly experienced possibly the most amazing occurrence of my life and something which I will never forget.
A Capuchin monkey (wild, not tame nor rehabilitated), approached me from what seemed out of nowhere as I had separated from the group to snap a few photos.

Red frontal lemur

Lathering up with orange goo from millipede guts might relieve infections and expel parasites in lemurs

A few years ago, a group of researchers stumbled upon a female lemur engaging in a bizarre ritual. In her left hand was a millipede, freshly plucked from the forest floor. As the scientists watched, the lemur munched briefly on the millipede’s body, gnawing greedily until it oozed orange—and proceeded to rub the saliva-slicked drippings vigorously over her genitals, anus and tail. After a well-earned break, she concluded the ordeal by gulping down the millipede’s spent body—but this encore act seemed to play second fiddle to her slathering shenanigans.

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Watching spider monkeys play is a delight. A youngster will watch an adult’s tail, suddenly bite it and run away. In return, adults sometimes chastise the young with a slap. On occasion, all play a kind of tag in which they chase an individual until it is caught, the runs off after the others in hot pursuit until it manages a grab or a playful bite. And so it will go on.

spider monkey 2 web

Having an amazingly sensitive gripping tail is totally unique to these monkeys.

 The spider monkeys use their tail as an extra limb and this makes swinging through the branches look easy,

 Their curious tails even have a bare patch of skin at the tip, much like a palm of a hand, for a more precise grip. But most importantly of all, the monkeys have tails so powerful they can support their own body weight.

 But these monkeys have another special adaptation for moving through the jungle. Their hands have no thumbs at all.

Projects On The Go

Monkey Sanctuary HP 1Conservation in Southern Africa is rapidly becoming unsustainable without the active involvement of the community, especially the younger, more active generation. The Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary and The Elephant Sanctuary group strongly believe that we have to get the younger members of communities involved to instill a passion for the environment and wildlife in them through education.


Pet Monkeys... Really A Good Idea?

monkey as petI'll introduce you to Joyce, for example. A young female capuchin, she was rather pampered with child-like paraphernalia; a dress and a small hat around her head. Cute, indeed. She had been with her "foster" family since only two months old, bought straight from a breeder. The couple who owned her did not have children, and so decided to substitute the missing link with a primate, albeit a bit smaller...and with sharper teeth.



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