At this time of year we see more instances of adult males taking care of young juvenile monkeys. Most often this takes the form of an adult sitting with a group of juvenile males playing together. The role of the adult seems to be that of a security guard. He doesn’t get involved in the play, but sits within a meter or so of the young ones, and constantly turns his head to ensure that there is no threat coming from any direction. He looks exactly like the bodyguard of a head of state, in fact.
But this photo, taken in August, shows two adult males with about 40 juveniles sitting around unhusked rice provided in front of the Chao Poo Shrine. There is just one female to be seen close to the group (picture 2) and there are others sitting further away, but none in the main group.
The two males are sitting opposite each other, and although as with play-group guardians, they looked around them occasionally, but never at each other. Neither was interested in eating the rice during the roughly five minutes I was observing them.
It seemed clear that they were close allies, and probably the dominant two of their troop, but I saw nothing to suggest which one dominated the other. However, one male caught my eye because he was sheltering an infant.
I had seen an adult male, probably this one, sheltering an infant several times in the last few days. The infant was certainly happy to be with the male, because on one occasion I saw them sitting next to each other and then the adult started to move away. The infant ran after him and attached himself beneath the male just as he would have with his mother.
There are several reasons why this situation may have come about. The mother may have dies or abandoned the infant. The adult male may have stolen the infant (I saw an adult male carrying and sheltering an infant last year, too.) Another possibility is that another monkey took the infant, and this adult male rescued him.
Fortunately, infants not old enough to be weaned off mother’s milk are nevertheless able to take small items of food so with continued care and protection this infant should be able to survive.