Monday, February 6, 2012

Show and Tell... and Baboons Barking?

We named this lazy baboon Kermit
Yesterday (Sunday February 5th, for those finding it difficult to follow the time difference) was dedicated to research and field observations of baboons.  Olive baboons claim a fancy scientific name, Papio cynocephalus anubis, but are far from fancy creatures.  In Kiswahili, the term for baboon is nyani.  The olive baboons are somewhat volatile in activities and emotions, ranging anywhere from playful, to lounging and relaxed (as noted by Kermit, to the left), to screeching in anger.  A noted sound of the baboon is called a bark, because of it's facial similarities to a dog.  I have to argue that most dogs I know of are much cuter than these grown, amorous monkeys... well, alright, I am purposefully speaking of my own dog - Sami - who is a yellow labrador.  I miss her constantly, and this seemed the perfect time to mention her!
   Three hours were dedicated to driving and noting the behavior traits of the rapscallions.  For all of my research, I have come to three conclusions: 

  1. Olive baboons are extremely similar to people in social activities.  On this lazy Sunday morning I would have loved nothing better than to lie in a shady place and enjoy the sounds of birds.  These baboons were just what I imagine many parents doing with their children in the park, as the adults would relax or sleep, and the young would climb, jump, and play constantly with each other, taking a break only to return to their parents and incessantly bother them for snacks.
  2. Baboons like to be watched. They're show animals.  They know what the tourists are here for, and they aren't going to put off their activities just because a few hundred cameras are pointed directly at them.  Eating? No problem.  Butt scratching? No nerves for these baboons.  Climbing from tree to tree, pointedly ignoring Mama Baboon's screeching? Always.
  3. Baboons are the gray squirrels/rats of Tanzania.  They're everywhere! Just like back home in the states - especially in NC - these baboons are seen so often that one no longer takes keen interest in them.  After a time it was common to hear voices citing sighs of boredom over baboons floating about the interior of the vehicles, because baboons are simply installed in all crevices of the Lake Manyara habitat.  

Can you spot the baby hippo sleeping beside its Mother?
Worry not, for the rest of the day was spent observing other species in the area.
   Alright, in complete honesty, we were "observing" by means of camera, with our eyes combining forces with the great visibility of our camera lenses, as if our pupils had all become the wide, black photo-lenses shining beneath the bright light of the jua na Afrika, or "African sun".
   The hippos were all lounging out beside the pools, which was somewhat unusual for the time of day, so we were lucky to obtain some amazing photos.  There were two baby hippos, eager to swim, lounge, swim, sleep, swim, swim, swim! 
   As we headed towards the gate, leaving behind us the savannas filled with zebra and wildebeest, we were confronted by a herd of elephants.  The great grey animals sauntered purposefully past our vehicles.  Their steps were accompanied by various trumpets from their trunks, directing their young away from the vehicles that they were so curiously and eagerly wishing to examine.  Curiosity is curiosity in any eyes, and it's quite easy to spot the trait in any young person/animal.  These young elephants were quite ready to observe our large green cars.
   That evening I slept heavily, and peacefully, with animals of Lake Manyara dancing about my dreams.
They walked right in front of our vehicle.
   The morning brought with it another beautiful day, and the neighborhood rooster was fervent in his endeavors to waken us with his crowing.  We left camp at sunup, and hiked to an cliff that provided an overlook of the mountains/farming land of Arusha.  It was here, amidst the great winds flying up from the valley, juniper trees and morning doves that we had our morning lecture.  It is amazing that I can rightfully say that I've had class on the ledge of a mountain in the highlands of Tanzania.  Needless to say, our greedy eyes were wandering, scouring for imagery as aggressively as an eagle scans for prey when it is hungry.
Tomorrow, or Tuesday, is our first day off.  We are going to see an Iraqw boma, and then off to Karatu to visit the market, and finish our day at Happy Days, where we will get to enjoy some missed American cuisine.  I'll be sure to share my experiences tomorrow, marafiki zangu and family, but for now, kwa heri!

1 comment:

  1. I can see why his name is Kermit. How was dinner at Happy Days? Did they play oldies rock too? You have to translate when you write in a different language, dear......