Merlin, the old warrior, battle scarred, arthritic and possibly the oldest baboon on the Peninsula. He was earmarked for culling two years ago but was given a stay of execution until some weeks ago. Sad. He may not have been in the best of health, but one wonders if he could not have passed away quietly up on the mountain somewhere rather than be put down by a vet. His crime – being a “raider” or should we say a savvy forager? There are many legends about him, mostly his daring strategies in taking dining opportunities at the Black Marlin Restaurant. He’d always spot the gap, sometimes just walk in with the patrons. I enjoy the tale of the kitchen staff having to keep the kitchen door locked and responding to a knock one lunch time, to find Mr Merlin looking all polite and may I come in please? Another of his ploys was to sit on top of cars, and wait until the desperate motorists would throw out ‘decoy’ food to get him off. Generally he’d get the goods. Observing him with his troop, he was a gentle old soul. The one who would fetch errant juveniles, or wait for the straying older females to catch up. He had endless patience with the junior members and juveniles would always be around him. And then he raised Little Grace after her mother mysteriously disappeared. How uncommon to see a male baboon with a small baboon riding below his tummy, her little hands locked into his fur or jockey style on top. The photo was taken at Miller’s Point, and for me it’s a poignant scene. I found Merlin on his own, staring out to sea into the far distance. He stayed for ages, not moving. Was there some call to those yonder distant mountains? He held the troop together through the distressing times of losing one adult male after another – Fred, Rudeboy, Crowbar, Jimmy, Manuel, Force… We recognise that elephant pay heed to their dead; perhaps if you read this you may give some thought and tribute to the effect of loss on non-human primates.