First time visitors….We were surrounded…Tom carries a big stick…Caution is advised and exercised…

While this “infant” baboon was perched in a tree checking us out, her/his parents were busy making themselves at home in our yard.

A few days ago while on a walk in the neighborhood, a baboon crossed our path, holding up its “arm” as if injured and with a huge bloody looking injury to his torso. Concerned that he could be dangerous in this injured state, we contact Louise. She, in turn, contacted the Marloth Park game warden with the hopes that they could locate this baboon to handle the situation as necessary.

We saw him in the single-file line as they made their way toward us. Obviously, he is the dominant male again as shown below.
He sat on watch duty the entire time they were here staying in this general area. If a 6 foot tall, 1.83 meters, human sat next to him, they’d have been of equal height. As with humans, baboon males also have nipples.

We’ve yet to hear if the baboon was located.  On Friday night while dining at Jabula Lodge, owner Leon (he and his wife Dawn are our new friends) explained how we must protect ourselves from dangerous animals in the wild. 
Leon explained it was imperative to do the following:
1.  Don’t run.  Back up slowly to safety.
2.  Try not to show fear.
3.  Wave and hold your arms over your head to appear larger.
4.  Do not leave any animal “cornered.”  Back away slowly to provide an easily accessible path for the animal to take.
5.  If possible, keep a large stick or branch handy at all times, especially when walking, if an injured animal is in the area.
6.  Never, in vulnerable situations, (walking in the bush, during bush drives, lounging or working outdoors) allow ourself to become complacent, failing to stay on alert.

They wandered about the yard looking for a shady spot to relax.
Some nibbled at vegetation in the yard determining if our greens were more appealing than other locations.

Yesterday, Tom removed the thick wooden handle from the pool net and now we’re equipped. From that point on, he’s kept that handle within easy reach at all times when we’re outdoors.

Scratch that itch!
Baboons can mate throughout the year. The notoriously red butts are an indication of mating readiness in the female and an attractive point for the male.  Although it looks inflamed and painful, it has few nerve endings and is not a sign of infection or discomfort.

The first indication of the arrival of the baboons was a loud sound on the roof above our heads. Very loud. Tom grabbed the big stick (thanks Leon!) as a giant male baboon stood 15 feet, 4.6 meters from us on the carport roof as he swung down from the roof. Without a doubt, he was here to check us out and to see if we had any possible food sources. 

Infant looking at mom for guidance.
Although this photo could be construed as kissing, in reality, the smaller one is grooming the face of the larger female.

He was huge and intimidating. Tom stood up, holding the 8 foot, 2.4-meter stick, waving it in the air and yelling.  I grabbed for the camera knowing Tom would cover my back. But, the adventure had just begun.

This other male watched the activities while sitting at the edge of the swimming pool.

The huge baboon, startled by our display of dominance, took off running toward the back of the house, the opposite side of the veranda to join the remainder of the large troop of baboons surrounding us. There were dozens of them, following along a worn-by-the-animals path that makes its way around most of the grounds.

Our resident zebra hung around while the baboons visited.
Grooming and babysitting continue.

Through the trees and bush, we could see the single procession of one baboon after another of varying sizes, walk along the path, making their way into the yard. The dominating males were clearly evident.

Picking on a hangnail, perhaps?

No less than a dozen made their way into plain view of us, parking themselves in comfortable spots with a clear view of us and then, much to our surprise, proceeded to entertain us with their usual antics and interaction with one another.

This photo further illustrates the enormous size of the dominant male.  This female to his left appeared to be a similar size of the other full-grown adults.

Although Tom kept the stick in his hand, there was no further need to wave it or show dominance. No more than a minute or two after they got themselves situated, a single zebra appeared, parking himself near the veranda.  In a funny way, we almost felt as is he was here to protect us although neither the baboons nor the zebra appeared threatened by one another.

Infant in the tree while mom sat below playing with her fingers.

During this entire period, I was taking these photos while Tom maintained a careful watch. We took no chances by walking off the veranda onto the driveway. The heavy railing does offer us some protection which we haven’t ignored. Although some of the wildlife appear relatively comfortable with humans in the general area, they are none the less, wild animals. 

A few stragglers had stayed behind for a few minutes as the others made the scattered mad dash to keep up with the dominant male. Our male zebra left minutes after the last baboon. It was the first time, he’d visited on his own.

Tourists and locals have been injured or killed by animals in the wild, most often as a result of carelessness and ignorance. Also, on occasion, members of The Big Five have been known to enter Marloth Park resulting in rangers and residents immediately alerting one another.

One must exercise caution from the many breeds of animals that naturally live in Marloth Park. A few days ago, two enormous roaring wildebeest ran through our yard, much too quickly for us to take a photo. They can weigh as much as 600 pounds, 272 kg, certainly large enough to kill or maim an unsuspecting human in their path.  The same goes for the giant kudus, weighing as much as 750 pounds, 340 kg, again large enough to cause serious damage. 

In general, most of the wild animals in this area aren’t known to attack unless provoked. On rare occasions, baboons have been known to attack for no reason at all. It’s best to consider all wildlife as potentially dangerous and to enjoy them from a reasonable distance, respecting their size, their strength, and the fact that we are intruding in their territory.

Today, the watch continues to see what wonders, if any, will come our way in the heat. With temperatures expected now at 100F, 38C, we wonder who may actually stop by. We’ve been outdoors for almost four hours now, as we write today’s post, sweat pouring off of us. But, we hesitate to venture inside to turn on the instant-on AC for fear we may miss something. That’s life in Marloth Park!

As we’ve learned in our travels, “the bigger the motivator, the more discomfort we’re willing to accept.” Need I say, we’re highly motivated?

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