It was one of those perfect spring days, warm and sunny and the local baboon troop came down to forage along the beach. Playful, curious and full of energy, the youngest baboons explore their surroundings. Observing them from a distance and not intruding into their space (keeping 10m away) is part of a photographer’s required etiquette around these wild animals.
Two days have passed since the storm and the sandy beach where I photographed the galloping zebra has altered in the aftermath. Today it is strewn with huge piles of kelp, dislodged by the powerful waves and borne in on the spring high tide.
The kelp brought with it a bonanza for the baboons, a feast of mussels still attached to the fronds. The baboons living along the coast supplement their diet with this highly nutritious resource which is rich in omega oils. They tucked in with gusto, and I noticed that some of the older females had packed their cheek pouches until they bulged into hanging pouches. There was a lot of ‘chatter’ as they sucked and chewed and a delightful sound of ‘hiccups’ as one greedy adult male gulped down the morsels far too quickly.
As baby baboons develop they progess from clinging below their mothers’ bellies to riding atop their backs. This juvenile baboon is probably old enough to be walking alongside its mother; instead it displays a rather confident riding ‘style’.
A crisis looms here in the Cape as drought grips the city of Cape Town and the surrounds. It is interesting to see these scenes at Olifantsbos beach where a gaggle of Egyptian geese and baboons hang out together, drawn to a fresh water spring very close to the edge of the tidal line.
The popular Cape Town cycle tour is to be held on Sunday (12 March) and as the participants and visitors arrive in preparation for the event the peninsula is abuzz. 35,000 cyclists are registered to take part. The lead up on the roads with the mix of cyclists, motorists, heavy vehicles, tour buses and wildlife sometimes result in dangerous situations. The stretch of road between Millers Point and to the top of the Smitswinkel rise has been particularly challenging especially with it’s blind rises and sharp bends. A couple of days ago, dodging cyclists and tour buses we came across this scene where a troop of baboons scattered across a section of road and motorists had pulled off to get a close-up viewing. Generally this troop’s movements are curtailed by appointed rangers, but this day they had given them the slip. What followed was inevitable, car windows were open and baboons being opportunistic went to investigate. A female baboon made off with a backpack, which fortunately she surrendered when chased. Luckier still is that the adult male baboon following behind did not challenge the man as he retrieved the bag. It’s doubly disappointing that careless motorists aren’t penalised or fined as this particular troop is being “conditioned” through the use of noise / pain deterence to prevent raiding behaviour. If motorists abided by the conservation laws and kept their car windows up and doors locked the baboons would have a better chance of not becoming raiders.