acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who Cares?

Who cares? well some people do apparently.

 Backed up against a quartzite cliff alongside the Olifants River in Balule Nature Reserve, is an extraordinary project called CARE. It is a baboon sanctuary for orphaned and otherwise unwanted baboons.  Baboons are problem children, especially when habituated or hand reared.  They can be aggressive and threatening in a wild situation, and they can definitely differentiate between human females and human males - they know which to confront if necessary.

For all the bad press baboons attract; we need them in the wild.  They forage and browse symbiotically with other species, who rely on the vigilance of the baboons to keep watch and  warn them of predators or approaching dangers. Thus they keep the other species more calm when risks are few.

Baboons can tell when you are looking at them, even from behind their backs, through a window far away!

We love to watch baboons interacting in a relaxed troop.  The antics of the young are hilarious and entertaining as they play-learn and explore their world. The groups of adult females, and dominant males keeping the hierarchy intact allow us to consider our own primate socialising from a safely removed distance.

Well, for now, I have no authority to talk  authoritatively about CARE. Hopefully, one of these days i will go and walk around with the volunteers and project managers, and discuss their hopes dreams and logistical issues.  But I did sneak a peek in there this week, on a rainy day with some pals who know the right people.  I have to say i found it somewhat disturbing - in the way that baboons watching us drive by from fenced enclosures made me cast them in an all too human light.  Wild baboons are omnipresent - even trying to enter the cages.  They communicate and vocalise with the baboon inmates which apparently is a good thing.

Baboons are much maligned because in many ways they compete with us for habitat, territory and food.  When pushed to the fringe they can become destructive to human property. There is a dichotomy though because as they are feared and hunted by people, they are also much loved, and an essential piece of the environmental well being.

That sneak peek at the CARE project has been tugging at my thoughts.  It was started by a Rita Miljo, who pioneered the successful release of baboon troops into new wild areas.  Sadly she died in a fire at her home, at the age of 81,  earlier this year.  But I feel that the people and volunteers she has left in charge of her work, still deserve to be recognised and supported. They  campaign for, and nurture, our wild things in remote and unsung corners of the continent, asking for so little and yet doing so much.

So, given the unauthorised nature of this posting, I invite you to visit their website and see for yourself. I will paste the links below.  In a world where everything bright and beautiful is under threat, I applaud and thank those who dedicate their lives to the preservation and making of forward plans for beleagured and politically incorrect creatures. 

If you would like me to find out more, or ask any specific questions when I do get to return there, please let me know in the comments below.


sewa mobil jakarta said...

Very nice photo shot, thanks for sharing.

Lauri said...

I'm a big fan of baboons. I'm off to check the website. Thanks!

Angela said...

I saw Reya`s comment on fb and came here to look! Yes, great work, and I agree that "unwanted" creatures should be protected just as much. You are doing a great thing making us listen!

Val said...

hi Sewa - thanks for visiting.

Lauri - great - let me know what you think

Angela - baboons are much maligned but we love them and need them too. like awkward family members i guess x

I really take my hat off to people who do work like this.

Angela said...

Haha, don`t we all have those awkward family members?

Janet said...

Maybe maligned because it's like looking in a wildlife mirror ....

Thanks for 'caring'

Val said...

haha Janet - yes i think you are right; some characteristics we may not want to own!

Amanda said...

how fascinating that the baboons outside the sanctuary are communicating with those inside. wouldn't you love to know what they are saying?

i applaud those who do this important work. what a terrible loss of rita miljo. we need more courageous and dynamic female elders like her (thinking about the crones in our world in my most recent post and she is a perfect example!)

Val said...

Amanda - yes apparently the wild baboons are playing an important socialising role on the inmates. They would probably like the easy food. Perhaps they are bartering an escape assist deal? baboons are capable of anything!

I am off to yours now to read that latest post. I agree - we need more elders like Rita Miljo. I will go back and do a more informative write up later on with permissions.


Val said...

Amanda - cant seem to leave comment on yours but love the crones, and yes, we need more dynamic female elders!

Linda Sue said...

How cool! They know that they are being "looked at" ...very sensitive- very smart - Thank you for this post- you are awesome!!!

Val said...

Linda Sue - i find it awesome too that they can sense they are being watched like that. good survival tool i reckon - we could be a leopard. they are very smart of course too. thanks for visiting and your comment!

Vagabonde said...

I was just watching a YouTube showing baboons who had kidnapped feral puppies then raised them as pets. The feral dogs then stay with the baboon families and guard them against other feral dogs. I don’t know if you can see this YouTube here is the link: I’ll go and check the website you mentioned.

Val said...

hi Vagabonde - wow that is so interesting thanks. I wonder if it isnt just symbiosis though? baboons do walk and feed with other species that have advantages for both - access to food and warning of danger; the puppy 'kidnapping' looks rather as though the baboon is thinking of eating the puppy rather than nurturing? they do prey on young mammals as well.