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Chacma baboons with collar camera

An ingenious new camera collar has offered researchers from our Anthropology department an unprecedented glimpse into the secret lives of wild baboons in South Africa.

The pioneering devices have captured baboons engaging in surprising behaviours that have never before been documented.

Cameras catch baboons eating antelope poop

Miniature video cameras concealed within collars recorded footage showing baboons carefully selecting and consuming the faeces of antelope species like kudu, impala and duiker.

This unusual eating habit, known as coprophagy, appears to allow baboons to gain vital nutrients when wild fruits and vegetables are scarce in the dry winter months.

This opens up new questions about how baboons exploit different food resources.

Intimate encounters with wildlife

The covert cameras also documented rare close encounters with animals like mongoose, impala and nyala.

These species normally flee at the sight of human observers.

Spurring new research avenues

The research team collaborated with the BBC Natural History Unit to develop the camera collar prototype for the documentary series 'Animals with Cameras'.

The researchers believe the collar cameras have vast potential for primate research, including studies of social behaviour, mate selection, attention patterns, and reactions to human presence.

Find out more

Our Anthropology Department is one of the largest in the UK and is ranked 23rd globally (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023).

Fieldwork is core to our taught programmes, and we offer research-led teaching and hands-on experience to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need for a successful future.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Anthropology webpages for more information on our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.