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.