It was late on a winter afternoon in August at one of the remaining pools of water in the Majale river in Mashatu Nature Reserve, the sun was low and shining fully onto the section of the river we were overlooking, when a troop of baboons came down to drink.
“Animals should not require our permission to live on earth. Animals were given the right to be here long before we arrived.”
~Anthony Douglas Williams
The boss was the first to arrive, a large dominant male baboon, presumably the troop leader. He walked with confidence and purpose.
Before getting to the pool he stopped sat down and just looked around, probably just assessing the lie of the land to make sure there were no potential threats to his troop.
“Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” ~ Suzy Kassem
This young male stopped in his walk to the pool and just stared at us. His mannerisms were so human-like, I could not help but smile.
The baboons were not the only ones keen to have a drink in the late afternoon. A small herd of impala also came down to sate their thirst. Baboon and impala will often be seen together as they work symbiotically and provide more eyes and ears to watch and listen for danger.
“Symbiosis is a much higher reflection of intelligent life.”~Frederick Lenz
Three young baboons came down to drink. I am sure the water was did not taste clean and fresh, but there was no alternative. You can see they were looking over the water while drinking, ever alert.
This young male baboon was bathed in the warm afternoon sunlight.
This young lady was preoccupied with a little thigh grooming.
“Well, best to remain vigilant. It’s when everything is calm that you need to be most alert.” ~ Brandon Sanderson
It was so peaceful and warm in the late afternoon sun that this male started to doze off while watching us. Obviously, the sun made more of an impression than we did, happily.
Mother and baby on the rocks above the pool. The sun has to be reasonably low in the late afternoon to get the baboons eyes fully illuminated because of their substantial forehead and eye brow.
These youngsters hang onto their mother’s hair which I am sure must hurt the mother.
“Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.”
This young female baboon was taking in the whole scene with serene acceptance.
I just loved the pose. She could have been on the beach in Saint Tropez with the camera crew all around her.
Unfazed and unperturbed, just soaking up the warm afternoon sun.
One of the youngsters must have done something wrong because it was about to be chastised.
Just like a human youngster, the young baboon screamed and shouted when being chased by a parent or adult.
“Baboons are incredibly social beings, and just like human families, they comfort and support each other, and squabble and fight!”
This youngster was looking for some comfort and protection from the adult. I am not sure if the adult was the youngster’s parent because there was already a baby clinging to the adult’s belly.
The next day we found two families of baboon sitting on the ground warming up in the early winter morning sun. The adults were grooming each other while the youngsters played on the branches around them.
These young baboons are so strong, nimble and flexible. It is great fun to watch their antics.
Baboons provide endless entertainment and photographic opportunities for wildlife photographers when on a game drive. If you are camping they can be very destructive. The big males can be aggressive and should be treated with great respect. The adult male baboons are often twice the size of the female and develop huge canines which they display as a threat when needed.
“A baboon troop is a complex and fascinating hierarchy, where males are dominant but their ranking is tenuous and changes often, while females inherit their social status from their mothers.”
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its inter-connectedness and let it be.
My name is Michael Singleton Haworth, nicknamed “Howie”. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and now live in South Africa. Zimbabwe was a fantastic place for youngsters to grow up, where opportunities abounded to get into the bush. I have two great ‘shamwaris’, Mike Condy and Adrian Lombard, whom I known for around 60 years. All of us have a great love of the bush and birds.