Our Primate Release Project Manager, Amanda, has given us a little update on life in the field with our baboons, it’s been an eventful few weeks including a very close encounter with a predator!
Life in the bush working with wildlife is not without its challenges. We released a troop of yellow baboons into Kasungu National Park at the end of January, and right from the start the release team was faced with some of the baboons running off, the troop splitting into two groups, encounters with wild baboon troops, and travelling far distances. We are now monitoring the best part of the release troop close to their initial release site. In the past few weeks, they have been slowly exploring their new home in the bush. Males John and Bruiser are confidently leading the group into discovering their new home range. They have been finding nice resting trees, fresh water pools, and plenty of delicious food like wild mushrooms and grasshoppers, which they naturally know they can eat. The rainy season is in full swing now and there are plenty of tall green grasses and budding leaves, flowers, and fruits for the baboons to enjoy. Jilly is even expecting to give birth any day now! Wendy’s daughter, Tosca, is doing remarkably, taken easily to life in the bush. She plays constantly and confidently walks along with the rest of the troop. The baboons are looking happy and healthy!
Although, we had quite a scare this past week…. While foraging in the woodland in the evening, the baboons were ambushed by not one, but FOUR leopards! Most likely a female with cubs. The group responded perfectly with alarm calls, screaming, and running, their instincts kicking in. Luckily, the leopards saw the scout who was behind the troop and they were scared off before any damage was done. All of the baboons gathered a few minutes later back at their release enclosure sleeping site safe and sound, much to the relief of everyone! It was a close encounter, but with the realities of freedom certainly in check, the baboons, and the release team, are on their toes and alert for the time being.
After a life in captivity, it is very satisfying to see these baboons enjoying their new found freedom back in the wild where they belong!