In Memory of Merlin

Now deceased.
Now deceased.

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.

27 thoughts on “In Memory of Merlin

  1. Beautiful – and I’m very touched. You knew him so well…there is something special with the old and wise, they seem to know every trick and seem to have solutions to almost everything. i wonder – has he got successor? May he rest in peace and be long remembered, Merlin.

  2. Always sad when a wild animal have to be put down (pets too, but different story). Wish this old not so gentleman could have had a natural death. At least you honour him with this majestic photo, and your memory.

  3. A kind tribute to Merlin, whose character you described well. I often wonder about ‘animal management’ – it doesn’t always make sense to me. It is a hard call deciding who gets it and when. What are the criteria?

    1. There’s a conflict zone here at the urban edge. City under health and security is obliged to keep the baboons out of areas of human habitation; easier said than done. The baboons who start raiding are allowed five strikes and then they’re out. When the environment is so rife with easy pickings, it’s a hard call to keep the baboons out. There’s a set protocol in dealing with the ‘rogue’ baboons and each case is assessed through WAC Wildlife Advisory Committee.

      1. At least there is a protocol. I suppose because they are social animals they can’t be relocated? We occasionally have bear problems and sadly they meet a similar end as Merlin. Humans always come out on top when push comes to shove.

  4. Sad and beautiful. But I loved this tribute to Merlin, and “meeting up” with him through your post, even though he now be gone. I’ll remember your stories about his clever adaptations to the human world, and his roles in his troop. What an opportunity you’ve had to get to know and observe such creatures first hand – and thank you for sharing it!

  5. Well written and lovely pic. All living things that occupy the fringes on our planet are often dealt with harshly. I think Darwin would have wondered about those trying to survive on the fringes but expect he would probably have given us a good lesson on how we can adapt and co-exist.

  6. Your beautiful tribute to this much-loved baboon is exactly how he was, Liz. He taught me more than he’ll ever know. He enriched my life immeasurably and I loved him with all my heart … Merlin, thank you for teaching me what is really important in life, but most of all I want to thank you for allowing me into your amazing life. I will remember you always …

    1. Your expression of Merlin is so touching & tender it made we cry. I just feel because of his age & contribution to the troop he should have been left alone….I cld never be a vet to euthanase such a wise & beautiful animal. Rest peacefully Merlin

  7. Liz-
    I agree with the statement/reflection written above by deWits Wild…
    But find hope that people like you and them encourage others to reach into their intellect, hearts, and souls to consider the importance and value of Nature. People will need to learn to view nature from a perspective other than the egocentric/ anthropomorphic one that often prevails.

    Keep planting these seeds… if enough of us sow awareness, I do believe it will make a positive impact. Albeit slower, and not as much as we might want to see…

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