Varmints were Neighbors, Enemies, and Entertainment.
will be a hard one to write. Baboons are naughty animals by human standards,
and many a tourist has been shocked at the manners of these hairy beasts.
I personally think the chimpanzee is highly over-rated as to intelligence.
animal huggers most often give the chimp credit for being the smartest ape because
he, like his alleged fool evolutionary heir, man, can smoke cigars and ride bicycles.
A baboon would flunk if cigars are the deciding factor. Nevertheless, I vote for
baboons in the intelligence ratings. I
think you may agree after you read this story.
are known as the most vicious of the apes. This, as with the leopard and
the cape buffalo, is not because of some innate lust to wreck mayhem on all sides.
Rather; it is because the baboon defends itself so well, and the baboon
has the most powerful jaws of all apes, with perhaps the exception of the gorilla.
troops are highly organized.
will abandon their young and flee from enemies, and this I say is dumb, NOT intelligent.
It is also why chimps are going extinct. Of course, the average Western
animal hugger has abandoned his young in order to pursue his scholarly interests,
so the chimp is his hero.
average baboon troop is structured very tightly at three levels.
Two to three huge bucks who lead the troop without any sign of competition.
Two: Younger bucks who submit to the three troop leaders and help protect
Three: Females and babies.
danger is sensed, such as an approaching leopard, the three big bucks will raise
the alarm. At once, the whole troop submits 100%, and the females grab the
babies and young and run to the center of the troop. The younger bucks gather
around the females and their young and display attack gestures outward. The
two or three big buck leaders move around the perimeter of the troop, back and
forth, watching for the leopard. The troop will not panic or run away.
a smart leopard, though he may consider baboon a delicacy, will not proceed to
attack. But, if the leopard advances, the three big bucks, with several
younger bucks following, will charge the leopard, and they will tear the
leopard to shreds..... literally. Baboons are much smaller than leopards,
but the effect of baboon rage is stupefying to the leopard. Game hunters have
reported finding the scene afterward, and all that was left was mouthful sized
pieces of leopard in all directions. The baboons tore the leopard to bits
using their powerful mouths. Virtually NO other member of the ape family
conducts business in this manner.
will attack humans in the same manner. If a person strolls past baboons,
they will ignore him. If a person chases baboons away from his garden, they
will flee. But, if you wound a baboon while trying to shoot them, don't
run forward to see what you got. The troop will always flee from gunfire. But,
the big buck leaders will almost always come back to carry off their wounded or
dead. If you are standing over the dead baboon you shot when those big bucks
return, you could very well be treated as a leopard. Many a baboon hunter
has used this factor and concealed himself nearby so that he could get another shot
at the leaders returning for their dead. If a troop is particularly troublesome
to farmers, this is highly merciful to the farmers. If the troop leaders
are all killed, the troop will break up in confusion, and their attacks on gardens
will then be easy to control.
smart are baboons?
we lived in the Arussi forests of Ethiopia on Lake Langano, we had to be very
self-sufficient in food production. We, and our Arussi workers, had gardens
for this purpose. About every two months a new troop of baboons would enter
our area. They would hang out in the short trees around the mission compound,
and with pure boredom they would munch wild berries in the trees. But, we
knew that at some point they would attack. They were casing us out, and
they learned when we went here and there, and when our Arussi workers were all
having a cup of tea, etc.
day we would hear a yell from a worker, and we knew that the baboons had descended
onto the mission station. They tore along pulling up every kind of plant around.
How they loved marigold flowers! The garden vegetables were new to
them, so they sampled everything. If we did not catch them in time, they
would pull up virtually every plant in the garden. At this point, I would get
my hunting rifle, and I would fire into the air, or simply run them off the compound.
Then I would follow them at a trot. They would usually head for the
tall trees. We had forests of wild fig trees which were not like any fig
tree you ever saw, for a wild fig tree, standing alone, could individually reach
90 feet high and 150 across. A grove of wild figs was quite different though.
They would crowd each other, and this would cause them to bolt and grow
as high as 200 feet high, forming a lacy canopy against the sky.
baboons felt very safe in the tops of these fig tree groves. As I chased them
one day to the grove near us, I came upon them as they were jumping into the lowest
branches of the trees along the edge of the grove where the trees were shorter.
The three big bucks were standing at the bottom of the tree eyeing me ominously.
Also, they were supervising the troop as it entered the trees. As youngsters came
along, two big bucks would grab a little one, one at each arm, and the big bucks
would fling the little baboon high in the air. With perfect aim they would
propel the youngster baboon into the first crotch of the fig tree, and then he
could scramble on up. The three big bucks went up last. I was so awed at
this performance that I forgot to shoot at the baboons, which would have been
an easy shot. Many hunters will confess to missing a huge deer because of some
spectacular display of animal instinct or beauty.
troop climbed high in the canopy of the fig tree grove, which was perhaps half
a mile across. On the floor of the grove, almost nothing grew other than
one lone variety of bush about 12 feet high. It was like entering a
cathedral built by God, and it was rather dark and mysterious. To my surprise,
the baboons did not try to flee through the tree tops and get away from me. If
I had been a better shot, I could have picked them off one by one from the ground.
walked on in the dim light thinking I would take a few shots to frighten them.
Baboons are very frightened of gun shots and the smell of gun powder. Gray
monkeys never fear guns, and will return the day after you shoot at them. Baboon
troops will stay away for at least nine months after being shot at. I walked
on, weaving in and out of the bushes, and I was amazed at the baboons. They
would hang over the high branches and peek at me. It almost seemed like
they were expecting something else to happen. And so they were. By
the grace of God, I was delivered. Just as I came up to a large bush and
was thinking of taking a pot shot at the baboons, I heard a cough on the other
side of the bush.
this is the point at which grown men wet their pants. I managed to avoid
this, but I was suddenly filled with pure terror. Have you ever experienced
this? It has a power to it which is beyond words, and you can almost taste
the fear in your mouth. I also knew that I would give off the odor of fear
in the state I was in, so I told myself to be cool at all costs. You see, there
is only one cough like the one I heard, and it is made by a leopard when it is
trying to make up its mind whether it should attack or flee. Give me a grizzly
bear, a cougar, or a black mamba snake after me, but you can keep your leopards.
I don't need that much trouble to satisfy my need for male machismo.
was not in nearly as much doubt as to my course of action as the leopard was.
I fled. Of course, with leopards it is very essential not to lock
eyes with the leopard and to walk off casually if possible. I was pretty
casual as I tore through the bushes. The baboons overhead raised a terrible
racket and howl. I could almost make out the words "off sides." I
had the real sense that the baboons not only had set me up and lead me to the
leopard, but they were also genuinely disappointed that the melodrama was cut
have never seen a leopard in the wild while on foot. I am not at all disappointed
either. A few months later, another troop of baboons entered our area, and
this time I decided I would not wait to see what their intentions were. In
the words of that world class warmonger, Henry Kissinger, I decided to, "raise
the level of hostilities." Taking my rifle, I chased this troop toward the
river. I noticed again that they were not trying very hard to get clear
of me. I had forgotten the earlier troop's tactics. We don't learn
much from history, right?
the troop got to the river, they entered the trees and crossed the river in the
tree tops. They stopped on the other side of the river within shooting range and
hung out in the tree tops. They had lead me to the edge of a flood plane of the
river which was extremely thick, like jungle. At this point, they had stopped,
and they actually began to pick berries and eat them, like they were bored with
me. It occurred to me that if I dropped onto the flood plane, I could creep through
the forest and possibly surprise them and kill a leading buck. This would insure
us that this particular troop would not be back perhaps for years.
Just as I was about to drop
into the forest below, I recalled the baboon stunt in the fig tree grove. This
time there was no warning cough, but I had the very real feeling that I was being
watched by a leopard. I looked at the baboons, and they were not looking right
at me-- they were looking at a point right below me! If I had dropped into the
trees below, I would have trapped the leopard on the flood plane, with the river
to his back and me to his front.
again, I casually turned and charged head first through the bushes for home.
have horrid social manners.
are a good number of them which have learned just how to gross out tourists. In
the game parks of Kenya, you may drive through the parks in your car, and the
animals are roaming free and living a fairly normal existence. This reverses the
zoo factor so that the humans are locked up in cars, and the animals can watch
humans. This is a favorite past time of baboons. They will climb up on the hood
(bonnet in the UK) of a car, and they will carefully examine the occupants through
the windshield. They may tear off the windshield wipers and see how they taste.
Before they leave, the males will pee on the windshield glass right in the face
of the folks inside. It is as if they know just how to gross out some sweet little
lady from Omaha or Birmingham.
day, my high school class from Rift Valley Academy in Kenya was on its "senior
safari." This was the last fling of the senior class, and for many the last fling
of life as a missionary's kid in Africa before returning to the USA or UK for
college days. We were "on safari" in the Serengeti Game Park, and we were traveling
along in a stake bed truck looking at the animals. I was pre-occupied when I noticed
all the girls were looking out the left side of the truck, while all the guys
were looking out the right side. I looked to see what the girls were avoiding
and the guys were enjoying so much. There, in a large acacia tree, was a big troop
seems that baboons have business meetings just like some churches, or like the
US Congress, and it seems they behave in the same manner as many churches in conducting
business. These baboons were yelling at each other in a very ugly way. There was
no one baboon who was the target-- just all yelling and barking. And, to punctuate
their barks and scoldings at each other, all of the adult baboons were pooping
in their hand and throwing it at each other. Brown stuff was flying in all directions,
and the baboons were getting to look pretty messy. I presume the meeting
adjourned when the ammunition could no longer be produced. Now, haven't you been
in a church business meeting that was similar to that? Some of you CEOs can also
relate to this I dare say.
enemy of baboons is the leopard, as we said earlier. Leopards look
on baboon like Americans look on fried chicken. At night, if a leopard is in the
area, you will know it by hearing the baboons barking in the trees. Don't go out
to the out house. Use the chamber pot.
one area of Ethiopia, the local people had managed to kill all of the leopards.
Leopards also kill sheep and goats, and will even kill a child for no good reason,
and the people thought they had done a good thing in killing the leopards. But,
the baboons lost their enemy, and they began to proliferate seriously. They were
in an agricultural area which had high mountains to one side and a lake to the
other. Baboons don't like to cross mountains, so they could not migrate and were
a severe hazard to the farmers.
local tribal leaders went to the missionary, Bud Isaacs, and asked him if he could
help them. By this point, the baboons were far too many to try to shoot them,
so Bud resorted to poisoning them. He put minute amounts of a highly toxic poison
into potatoes used as bait, and he was able to kill 10,000 baboons. This only
brought the situation to be manageable.
can also be very hard on people's sense of decency. In the 1950s, a
member of the Kenya Legislature, a white settler of high moral fiber, asked for
a law to be passed to put a high bounty on baboons and eradicate them. It seems
that baboon males, when bored by plentiful food supplies and the good life,
will chase down female gazelles, and they will mount the gazelles as a form of
sport. Well, the good English settler thought this was a clear form of perversion,
and he asked the Kenya legislature to wipe out all baboons in East Africa.
without being too impertinent, I suggest that these baboons are not a lot unlike
some Presidents we have had in the USA. One in particular, had to address the
legislative lions of decency and try to explain his novel conduct with various
gazelles who worked for him in the Oval Office. Interesting eh? It makes it hard
for a Bible believer to fight off the evolutionist claims regarding man's origins.
day at Langano in Ethiopia, our workers brought us a baby baboon. He was
as cute as anything you ever saw. He lost his fear of us humans very quickly,
and we made him a big cage to live in. Problem: The rascal could get out of any
cage we put him in. Once out, did he run away? Yes, for about ten minutes. He
roamed the tree tops until it occurred to him that his food came from us. At that
point, he would descend toward us, fussing and screaming blue murder. At first,
we wondered if he would bite us as we grabbed him, but he never did. Back into
the cage he went. He would eat almost anything we gave him, and we gave him a
bath from time to time in the lake. He was a very nice pet-- until one day a single
lady guest missionary visited our mission station.
little friend had never displayed any of the known perverse baboon social manners
with us or our Arussi workers or their children. Surprise, surprise! When the
young baboon, now entering adolescence, spied the single lady missionary, he made
a bee line for her, grabbed her leg in a full embrace, and what followed was far
and away beyond embarrassing folks. We had always marveled at the fact that our
baboon was such a model citizen, yet we noted that other missionaries never had
baboons for pets. We had learned why-- the hard way. The next day we had to take
our little friend far away and return him to his baboon culture, where hopefully,
he has developed some better social habits.
you can see why baboons are held in very high esteem for their intelligence, but
most folks who have lived in their territory also have reservations about hugging
baboons to closely. Chimps, after all, do have much better social graces than
ATTACK A LEOPARD IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
THE BABOONS WOULD NOT WANT TO EAT THE IMPALA-- THEY SIMPLY THOUGHT THEY COULD
CATCH THE LEOPARD DISTRACTED BY ITS KILL. THIS IS A CASE OF THE BABOONS STARTING
JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT..... THIS: