Here at Kaingo Private Game Reserve we are blessed to have a few troops of baboon. The great natural historian Eugene Nielen Marais did a study on the baboons of the central Waterberg, birthing the classic research and popular book 'My friends the Baboon' (in his native Afrikaans, Burgers van die Berge).
Very few animals have such presence and human qualities as the baboon. Firstly, they look like us…well, some of us. The dog like muzzle, thousand-yard stare out of those nut-brown eyes, and upright sitting posture endears us to these monkeys. They have a very strong social system, much like ours! The troop leader, his head mistress and her offspring rule the roost until the poor leader is beaten in combat. Even the smallest of baby baboon have a place in the hierarchy based on the position of the mother in the troop.
Their mannerisms are very true to humans as well. Allo-grooming whereby baboon delicately remove fleas, ticks and other parasites from each other's fur, is an integral part of their social structure. Their facial expressions, as in the first photograph above, make it seem like pure delight at the touch of their friend.
When faced with an opportunity to sit with these wonderful creatures and experience troop life and habits, you may see something of yourself in those eyes…