While you explore Africa there is one animal that you will find at once endearing and ever-present. The ubiquitous baboon. They are gregarious creatures living in troops of up to 100 and run by a set of males who all have equal status as Dons and yet among equals there is usually a Don of dons. Il Capo di tutti Capi as they say in Sicily. The males are almost double the size of the females and they brook no backchat. The whole troop is busy trying to get into their good graces and one very common way of endearing yourself to these big boys is to groom them. The females and junior males alike will groom higher status animals and make ‘friends’ so to speak and the bosses enjoy the attention.
The whole troop will wake up in the morning on a favourite tree that they always use to roost and in their territory there are usually a few of these trees that are the “Baboon Hiltons”. Don’t park under there in the night or you will be rained on and it will not be pleasant and that car is gonna stink for a week. Ha! The morning is for fellowship and catching up and of course grooming. Females will groom the children looking for nits and lice and bits of food left in their fur and so also adults will groom each other. It’s a bonding activity that takes up a good hour or two depending on the weather.
The troop bonds and gets together each day like this. They are a very tight social unit and very little threatens a large baboon troop. Males have canine teeth that are longer and sharper than leopards or lions and two three big males successfully hold off leopards even on the ground. The cats also have a healthy respect for the males fighting skills, strength and of course the teeth!
Baboons have been known to hunt impalas at times and though they often forage together with impalas they have also been known to kill baby impalas for the curdled milk in their stomach. A favourite food. But this is not so common. More common is impala and others under a marula tree getting access to the fruits that the baboons drop and shake loose as they feed on the delicious marula fruit.
Come and Explore Africa and find out something new every day!