Wild Baboons, Buck and Ostrich at Olifantsbos Beach, Cape of Good Hope

Winter at the Cape Peninsula can be petulant: wild and stormy with the Atlantic sea crashing in with dramatic drift and flow contrasted with the calmest sheerest-whisper-of-wind days.  Returning after months away traveling to tropical countries, this for me is the best time of year to be in Cape Town.  Though home is in the southern peninsula – away from the city lights where nature shows her untrammeled face.  I have written quite a few posts on Olifantsbos Beach, here , here  and here. This working beach with it’s natural processes attracts diners to a veritable feast.   Seabirds flock here and recently i visited hoping to photograph the African Black Oystercatchers but instead got totally distracted by a gaggle of Egyptian geese in mating mode. Their strut and ‘necking’ stole the show.  Then the ostriches showed up, the buck and the baboons …..

Matching the colours of the kelp, Egyptian Geese gather into a gaggle.
The Egyptian geese spectacle.

A wobble of ostrich.


This Chacma baboon troop is one of the wild troops living within the park. There are only two troops which aren’t habituated to raiding anthropogenic food sources and forage only in natural fynbos and the rock pools for shellfish.  The rest of the troops are under threat one way or another, either through being attracted into residential areas or through poor conservation practice.  Generally there is an overlap into their home range where human recreational facilities feature vineyards, restaurants, picnic and campsites.  If baboons know they are going to get easy rewards and when residents and property owners do not secure garbage bins or adequately baboon-proof their properties / homes, baboon raiding patterns become entrenched as they will return over and over.  If they learn to rely on human food it voids their inherent role in the ecosystem and disrupts their social relationships.  They can become aggressive and when they have to be euthanised there is much outrage often from the humans who are the cause of the entrenched raiding patterns in the first place.  While SANParks recognise the ‘res nullius’ free roaming status of baboons, there is a lack of law enforcement for fining people who feed the animals nor are there enforceable by-laws for securing garbage so ultimately it’s the baboons which suffer the consequences.

21 thoughts on “Wild Baboons, Buck and Ostrich at Olifantsbos Beach, Cape of Good Hope

  1. You write so beautifully and your photographs are marvellous. I really enjoyed reading about a ‘natural’ beach as opposed to so many that are raked clean for tourists to use – those are ‘lifeless’. The beach we recently visited in the Transkei was wonderful from that point of view and was teeming with all sorts of natural wonders.

    1. Thanks for you kind comments, Anne. I’ve not ever visited the Wild Coast area and find your posts with an air of ‘off-the-beaten’ track very appealing. Glad to know that the beach you visited had a thriving ecology. So many areas can become over harvested.

  2. I’m very happy you’re back in Cape Town from your travels, Liz … I’ve missed your blogs!

  3. Great photos of the residents, Liz. The ostriches look like teenagers nervously hanging out, not sure what to do next. 😉
    Your tale of baboon woes is similar to black bears here. We have a saying: “A fed bear is a dead bear.” Yet, there are still idiots who feed them. When a conflict arises, it is the bear who pays. Arrgh!

    1. Thanks. Good spot Eliza, the ostriches were younsters, not quite adult and quite ‘flighty’. I hadn’t realised that they were so close and i’d been crouching to capture the seabirds, when i stood up they got quite agitated, so i had to return to a squat! Fortunately they did move off, else i imagined having to duck-walk back along the beach.
      Isn’t that so despairing when humans’ irresponsible behaviour imperils the lives of wild creatures! Have wished at times that deterrence strategies such as paintball guns could be utilised to control people instead.

  4. Wonderful photos Liz. I can hardly imagine going to a beach to photograph sea birds and having ostriches and baboons arrive. What a show! I would be so excited. Too bad about the baboons. We have a similar problem here with the bears but people are generally pretty aware, and certainly don’t try to feed them.

    1. Thanks Alison. Isn’t it extraordinary! I never know what to expect but it’s a huge a privilege to have these encounters 🙂 To get people to buy into good conservation practice where there is wildlife conflict is a major hurdle. I can imagine one would have to be super vigilant having bears around the urban edge.

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