baboon in the wildOur partners at Carnivore Research Malawi in Kasungu National Park have been camera trapping for carnivores recently, but camera traps often find other wildlife too.

I was overjoyed when CRM’s senior researcher, Rob, told me he captured photos of baboons close to the 2015 release site.

At first, he sent me photos of the photos on his computer, and I was already rejoicing that one looked like one of the released baboons. A few days later he was able to email them all to me, and it turns out he got 3 baboons on his cameras!

I was smiling ear to ear as I looked through them. I’m pretty familiar with recognizing individual baboons and could immediately recognize two of the individuals. I did however spend a good few hours looking through old photos for comparison to confirm.

Two are definitely Bruiser and Brian, and then the third youngest baboon in the photo set gave me pause, as she did not look familiar. However, my best guess is that she’s the infant I released, Tosca, who is all grown up now! Check out the pictures to see if you agree!

It is really something special and heartwarming to see pictures of these baboons again. After spending a year putting in blood, sweat, and tears with them to get them back into the wild, it was very difficult to then have to leave them on their own, as I had to go work on the next release. There’s nothing you can do but wish them luck!

It truly made my day to see pictures of them still surviving and thriving in the wild. It’s like seeing long-lost friends. Long-term post-release sightings are also valuable research on the survivability of released primate troops and prove that our methods work successfully.

Tosca yellow baboon
Age at release: 4 months old (1.5 years at end)
Age at sighting: 3.5 years old
Sex: Female
Rank: high-ranked (daughter of alpha female)
Origin: born at LWC during pre-release phase
Personality: Tosca was always a precocious little kid, seeming to understand her high-ranked status. She’d always bounce from baboon to baboon seeking attention. She did remarkably well for such a youngster, evident by her survival to this day!
Brian the yellow baboon
Age at release: Adult, 6 years old
Age at sighting: Adult, 8 years old
Sex: Female
Rank: 2nd lowest ranked
Origin: ex-pet
Personality: At first Brian was very human-focused and friendly. It took a lot of work to get her to not notice the release team and to follow the troop. Eventually, she did great and wouldn’t even look at us! She was always a bit of a goofy baboons, never seeming to care about her status in the troop, and the rest of the baboons responded in kind, never really treating her as low-ranked.
Bruiser the yellow baboon
Age at release: sub-adult, 6 years old
Age at sighting: adult, 8 years old
Sex: male
Rank: beta male (2nd highest ranked)
Personality: Bruiser was always just a cool dude. He never caused any problems for the baboons or the research team. He seemed to be the silent caretaker of them all, remaining always vigilant and protective of the other baboons, especially the younger ones.