Wednesday, 22 February 2012

All good things come to an end

Nothing lasts. I'm moving on again, to Capetown next week and then back to Canada in March. It is terribly sad to leave all the people I have met here but it is time. I have been here longer than anyone else in the barn. People have gotten the idea that I know what's going on and sometimes I actually do: I know the best places to swim, how to light the water heater, what is jumping on the roof (bushbabies have the night shift, and samangoes take over during the day with a little help from the baboons), and how to bake on a gas camping stove. I am hoping to get some decent baboon pictures before I go, but these are the best so far.
One of the samangoes. Whenever monkeys sit like this, I have a cartoonish urge to pull their tails.
Sadly, one of my favourite baboons has probably died. Klink was the oldest male in the troop and looked ancient and frail for years, so it was not unexpected. I never saw him pick a fight, unusual in a baboon, and he was so old and harmless that none of the other males bothered to threaten him. We saw him one day, feeding and keeping up with the others, and then we didn't see him the next day. It has been four days now so we don't expect to see him again. Our baboons actually have pretty good lives here: very few predators bother them and there is so much food that they all have little pot bellies.
I think this is Knight, one of the older juvenile males.
I have been very busy with following baboons, looking for jobs, packing, and training my replacements. There were three new people to replace me, but one of them quit already because she was scared of snakes. It's a good thing she wasn't with me this morning, because I saw the biggest snake I have seen here yet. It was at least 3m long, so it must have been a black mamba because they are the only snake here that gets that big. I don't know for certain that it was even alive, because it did not react at all and I got within 2m before I saw it. I think it was alive though, and just lying in the sun to get warm after a cold night. 

I liked the symmetry of the two grooming pairs here. In the background you can see the brai area (South African BBQ) and an early prototype of the baboon weighing platform (the triangular thing).
I am organizing a treasure hunt. Monday I got some toys in town and yesterday I hid them while I was out with the baboons. I'm going to give everyone the GPS coordinates and see how long it takes them to find the prizes. I tried to put the treasures near pretty views or interesting rock formations. Only the baboon people ever go off the trails so this will be a good opportunity for everyone else to see some new territory. 
Samangoes are territorial and try to drive the baboons away. Baboons are much bigger and not territorial, and they interpret the samangoes' threats as an invitation to play. The one on the left is a samango, on the right is a very young baboon, and I'm not sure what the one at the top is.


  1. It will be a wrench to leave, I'm sure, but what a wonderful experience you've had.

  2. It will be so good to see you again! I am amazed at all the skills you have learned in a few short months! I love that portrait of Knight!
    As Jabblog says, you will be sad to leave, but you have the internet to stay in touch...

  3. As they say in Zulu and related languages: "Hamba kahle", meaning literally "go well", and used to express the wish for a safe trip for you.