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.


The riggish scent of the sea hangs strongly in the air; there’s a chill wind and I feel uncomfortable as a strange and creepy feeling envelopes the beach strewn with storm detritus and mounds of kelp. In the distance lies “The Log” a casualty from some long ago episode when it washed ashore to lie abandoned and forlorn.   This is a hostile place for ships when the Cape is battered by the huge breaking Atlantic swells.  Just off this beach lie four shipwrecks and some say that the ghost ship “The Flying Dutchman” still plies these waters…..

WPC: Focus

The Beach Scene

“Wandering with my camera, I often find my eye drawn to strange bedfellows.  Juxtapositions. Foils, unexpected pairings ….”  so says Michelle at WordPress in her challenge for the week as she sets the topic “Juxtaposition” for this week’s challenge.

Here, over our summer season, the beach scene generally hums and you never quite know who’ll be there strutting their stuff.  So it looks as though feathers are in this year for the latest in beach attire….

Neck contortion and a bit of preening.
Just checking the fluffy bits.
Ma and Pa ostrich
Ma and Pa ostrich checking out the beachgoers.
Ma's quite unfazed by all the fuss.
Ma’s quite unfazed by all the attention.
All part of the day's outing.
All part of the day’s outing – swimming, sunbathing, cooling off at the water’s edge.

Female Baboons Move up the Ranks.

Where food is concerned the Cape Peninsula’s Chacma baboons keep a strict pecking order and usually males dominate, with the alpha male reserving top status.  With the recent spate by the authorities to cull off aggressive male baboons an interesting development appears to be taking place.  Female baboons are now honing assertive raiding skills.