Baboons play an integral role in the ecology of Fynbos vegetation and their diet is so varied within this plant system that it may be easier to note what they don’t eat rather than the extensive list of what they do! I’ve been fortunate to sight a couple of the troops recently in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve while out cycling and have been able to observe their foraging. After good rainfall this winter the vegetation is green and succulent and the animals are in good condition. The temperature has also been colder than usual so it’s interesting to note their thick ‘winter coats’.
Feasting on pincushion blooms (Leucospermum conocarpodendron), a young juvenile baboon, while handling the flowers gets covered in pollen. As he scrambles across the bush he’ll provide a useful service of cross pollination by brushing against the pollen and spreading it to different flowers. There he is fulfilling an ecological role as a part of a functioning ecosystem.
Swathes of yellow catch the eye as the mountain slopes in the southern part of the Cape Peninsula are in full bloom with the showy Leucadendrons (the cone families of the Protea species). Winter is a dynamic time for a number of the protea species – Blackbeards and Green sugarbush proteas also flower showing off stylish flower heads.