Reciprocity in female himalayan tahr (hemitragus jemlahicus)

Research by CNR – Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in collaboration with the Rome Bioparco

The purpose of this study is to investigate the social behaviour of the group of female Himalayan tahrs (Hemitragus jemlahicus) housed at the Rome Bioparco. In particular, we want to evaluate the existence of a dominance hierarchy and differentiated social relations. Another purpose is to test the hypothesis that the Himalayan tahrs can reciprocate the exchange of cooperative behaviours (grooming).

The study of the behaviour of ungulates is mostly focused on aspects of their behavioural ecology such as foraging, anti-predatory responses or sexual selection. The details of the social life of ungulates have traditionally been neglected on the basis of the implicit assumption of their lack of complexity and sophistication.

There are indications that ungulates may form differentiated social relationships and that they possess complex conflict management mechanisms such as reconciliation.