Monday, July 23, 2007

Baboons, Woman & Children

July 18, 2007. Mole National Park, Ghana

As much fun as they are to watch, we're really getting a sense of how much of a problem the baboons can be. One interesting thing that has been brought to our attention is that baboons don't seem to have any fear of women. In speaking to the workers of the park, this fact comes up again and again. In fact, recently just to test this hypothesis, a worker here dressed up as woman and mingled with the females working outside near the kitchen. When the baboons came by, as they do most evenings as dinner is being prepared, a few of them went about hassling the women and chasing them. When they approached the man dressed up in costume, they stopped dead in their tracks. They paused for a moment to give him a closer look. Once they realized that he was a man, they ran away to safety.

According to Brashares, baboons can also be incredibly aggressive. For instance, he reported one case in Kenya where he witnessed two male baboons attempting to take a baby from the arms of its mother. The baboons lunged repeatedly at the woman, bearing their teeth, barking and circling her. Confused and frightened, the woman was hysterical and didn't know what to do as the baboons got more brazen and aggressive. Finally, a man came to her aid and forced the baboons away.

These Patas monkeys, pictured below, can also be quite aggressive. One morning, when I was watching them, one looked up at me and then charged, swatting at me -- its arms flailing. I jumped back and tried to take a posture to scare him off, but he kept on coming. Finally, he backed away when a worker from the motel ran up with a slingshot. Moments later, the Patas raided our breakfast table as we sat. They jumped on the table, went right for the sugar and jam and stuffed their mouths full before darting off.

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