acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad boons?

You can tell when its baboons on the roof at first light - not
monkeys. Baboons are much heavier for a start and they have a sort of
three gaited lope. Whenever the baboons are here, I thank my lucky
stars that it is only rarely and our roof racers are usually only
lightfooted monkeys. I dont think our tin roof would stand up to a
full baboon onslaught.
We have started our winter feeding programme again. We have some
molasses out, and this weekend we put out a bag of antelope cubes.
These are like dog cubes, or pony nuts, but designed for wildlife ie
probably mostly consist of ground up mopane trees for which we pay a
small fortune. As luck would have it the baboons spotted the weekend
feast from the top of one of the koppies and came striding in. They
sit around the feed zone, and keep on piling pellets, one by one, into
their mouths. They never seem to swallow. With each handful, their
quick brown eyes dart around in all directions so its very hard for
anything to sneak up on them, even when they are preoccupied with
Baboons can see you through the window from far away - even when the
light is reflecting on the glass. Infact, i am pretty sure they can
feel when they are being looked at. You know that feeling that makes
you look around before you even realise why, and you find someone
staring full bore at your back, or immediately dropping their eyes
after a big staring session? Well there is supposed to be some energy
exchange taking place, that we can tune into, but mostly we are so
unaware that our bodies respond before we acknowledge the event.
Baboons are exceptionally good at this.
They can be sitting on their haunches, arms resting on knees, tummies
hanging round and low, gazing skyward or at the youngsters at play.
You start watching from the dark recesses of the kitchen and - whoa -
they spin around immediately. The mood changes and they start moving
away into the cover of the rocks and trees. Try this with a camera
and they are liable to take off at speed. Its very impressive, this
skill. No doubt it saves their bacon too where other farmers and camp
managers are liable to shoot at, or just shoot, baboons to keep them
away from the damage to property that they always do. Yesterday they
swung on one of the guest tents collapsing the center pole, and they
always swing on the rolled up canvas windows, breaking them, tearing
anything they can; they pulled the pool cushions around and left them
covered in baboon prints too - and they always leave a large ugly
calling card somewhere where you want to walk. So its not without
reason that people do not entirely welcome the baboons in to their
They will destroy your garden too.
However, living in a game area, it is better if your baboons are
calm. Other animals listen to their alarm calls and respond with
them. If the troop of baboons runs from you because they are afraid
they will get shot, then all the other animals run too. Panic is
catching! So if the baboons are relaxed at the waterhole, you are
more likely to see other more timid species coming to drink and
spending time there too.
Baboons are really fun to watch too. We can relate to them in so many
ways. Its a bit like people watching, but we are allowed to watch
baboons in this way. Just dont make eye contact - this is bad baboon
So we do like them, and its great to have them around. They make
wonderful silhouettes on the rocks at sunset, and their alarm calls
let us know when the lions or leopard are passing by. However, I am
still glad that they do not live on our roof.


The Solitary Walker said...

Observant description of baboon behaviour, Val! I enjoyed reading it.

karen said...

hi Val - i love your description of those baboons - absolutely perfect!

Just read your earlier one about the beautiful lions, although the thought of the snares makes me so sad...

Anonymous said...

Agreed, I'm glad they don't live on your roof.
My second least favourite mammal. No prizes for guessing what my least favourite is.

Anne said...

I enjoyed reading about your description of the baboon. A very interesting animal indeed. They do look very much like a monkey, but a little scary!
Have a wonderful day.

mermaid gallery said...

What fun to hang with baboons! They sound fascinating...but no eye contact is a good tip! I have seen them in zoos and they look like such characters....always a great read!

Angela said...

When I read this I am very glad we only have our greedy duck invaders to feed. At least they don`t make a mess out of our garden and rooftops - except, well, their stinky green poo.
Am fascinated by your description, though, also that you do see some good sides!
And janet, no, I have no idea? Which are your least favourite ones? Hyena?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Angela - you won't agree, but for me, it's MAN. We are the most awful mammal species on this planet

Friko said...

Fascinating. Again.

How much time do you get to watch wildlife? Not a lot needed with baboons, it seems.

I have rooks and blackbirds pecking at the moss on my roof to get at insects. I don't suppose that counts, does it?
Maybe not.

Margaret said...

Do the baboons ever hurt humans? Fascinating blog and I can't wait to read this to my girls. Thank you!

Val said...

SW - watching them watching us :)

Karen - those snares are tragic - badboons rock on though :)

Janet - i think i know which that is - but thats prob cos we are the only NOT endangered species around?

Choices - baboons can be agressive and territorial sometimes. they are just so much bigger than monkeys

Susan - yup and theres the flip side - they are fun to sit with and observe

Angela - duck poo can be bad but baboon poo is far too human looking!

Friko - as much as possible. Yes that counts - its all fascinating dont you think?

Margaret - well they could, yes - especially smaller and weaker ones - but generally not if their living conditions are ideal.

monkeys are running races on the roof thismorning as i speak. they want us AWAKE!!

Anonymous said...

Bad boons? Haha. Bad pun. We don't have baboons here but we have macaques here who are known to break in to steal food and even alcohol. Although it is very rare, we also had the sad case last week of a macaque killing a two week old human baby by grabbing it, biting it and then dropping it from the roof of the house.

Lori ann said...

haha, i love watching them, but i am pretty sure i would not want them on my roof either.

there is never a dull moment there. :)

p.s. i guessed right at janet's least favorite, there are times i'd have to agree.

Liquid Roof said...

It will be a great fun for me to watch them like this, thanks for posting. :D

e said...

Baboons have always seemed a bit scary to me. What will happen to the lioness now?

Cheryl Cato said...

Great description of the baboons. One never thinks of them in the same way as we do monkeys. Also, I'm glad it's the monkeys who visit your rooftop... having a blog called "Baboons on the Roof" is not quite as appealing! :-)

Marilynne said...

I only have squirrels and raccoons on my roof. They are bad enough. I can't imagine the sound of baboons. They must talk among each others too.

Thanks for telling us about it. It's unlike anything I experience.

Amanda Summer said...

wonderful descriptions val -- i especially like the fact that baboons can pick up when someone is staring at them.

and now i know what good 'boon manners are! ;-)

Val said...

lgssquirrel - omg thats so awful about the baby!!! and thank heavens our lot havent discovered alcohol!! yikes!!

lori ann- its hard not to be disappointed with the human race sometimes; but we have to believe...

liquid roof - they are fun to watch for sure!

e - the lionness is at the rehab center while she heals; then they will see if its possible to release her back into the reserve, otherwise they will keep her there.

lizzy - no Baboons on the i agree :)

Marylynne - they do kind of talk, like soft grunting noises; when they are not squaling and shouting that is.

Amanda - baboons are really sensitive to that staring thing. so clever hey?

thanks for you comments - am on borrowed internet time again but checking in when i can.
blog on everyone :) xxV