Baboon Antics in Hwange

This diary entry took place at Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

On a recent morning game drive in Hwange National Park, the African bush and its inhabitants slowly came alive after a pretty cool night. Sitting quietly at Scott's Pan, which is surrounded by expansive grassy plains, we watched large herds of blue wildebeest and Burchell's zebra making the most of the warming sun, peacefully feeding oblivious to our close proximity. Two stately secretarybirds hunted in the distance, elegant grey crowned cranes added colour and the deep booming calls of southern ground hornbills provided the background chorus. Idyllic.   

We noticed that a troop of chacma baboons were slowly moving to the waterhole. To us they looked like a ragtag unit of poorly trained marines led by a large male baboon. They casually sauntered past our vehicle looking for anything to eat.

The troop settled behind the waterhole - grooming, screaming, and squabbling as only baboons do. "There goes the serenity", we thought, chuckling quietly. Suddenly one of the baboons made a hell-bent dash into the water - his target a lone waterlily. Within seconds the waterlily was in his mouth and he made a dash back for terra firma. I managed to shoot off a few frames capturing these comical images, the baboon certainly looking out of place and very nervous in the water.

Baboons feed on all edible plants and in the Okavango for example regularly enter shallow water to reach their prizes, but this was a first for me in Hwange where there is very limited permanent water. The prize was devoured before other troop members could get in on the action.

Meanwhile, the troop continued its 'sortie', soon meeting up with another troop coming from the other direction. A fight ensued, with baboons chasing each other up a big leadwood tree, the losers being flung screaming back to the ground several metres below.

Baboons may be a common, often overlooked, inhabitant of our savannah ecosystems, but they are certainly interesting to observe!

© Martin Benadie

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