The Baboons

By Sherry Bridgman
Friday December 21, 2007

In Africa near the equator the sun comes up at the same time and sets at the same time everyday. Our group was staying at a game lodge in Tanzania where the greater part of the Serengeti lies. The Serengeti is a reserve for African animals, made up of grasslands and the rift valley. 

About 3:30 p.m. we started to gather at the lodge for the evening game run before the sun dipped behind the mountains come 6 o’clock. The rule at this game reserve is that the mini-buses must return to the lodge before dark. 

We climbed into the VW mini-buses and were off. Our driver-guide spotted a pride of lions and we headed in that direction. To our great surprise, it was a pride with three young cubs. The adults were all lounging under a tree while the cubs were wrestling and pouncing on one another. We noticed that they were playing with something. On closer inspection with our binoculars we could see they were playing with a zorrie (or flip-flop as you may know them by), as most everyone in this part of the world wears them. Here we were in the middle of nowhere and these cubs were playing with a yellow flip-flop! You have to wonder where it came from.  

Our next stop was at a ravine where our guide had spotted some baboons. We were very excited to see these Anubis baboons, as this was an unusual sighting. All of a sudden, hundreds of them started coming up the ravine toward our position. At this point the guide turned off the engine, and then very quietly said, roll up the windows, do not take pictures, and do not talk.  

We could hear the urgency in his voice. As we sat very still, the baboons kept coming up the ravine, the large males showing their teeth and circling the van, many females with babies on their back were passing nearby. It was probably close to 30 minutes before all the baboons had gone by, and it was getting very dark.  

When they were well out of sight our guide fired up engine and we started back to the lodge. He then told us that he had never seen that many baboons in that large of troop. He thought that there were probably over 600. He told us that those baboons could have ripped our van apart in minutes if they felt threatened and that was why even a click of a camera could have set them off!