Saturday, October 24, 2009
I escaped the work at Loisiijo Lodge to visit Joel of the Ewaso Ngiro Baboon Project. The habituated baboons are upstream on the river only 7 km from Loisiijo Lodge.
The project is run by Dr Shirley Strum. For decades she has been studying these fascinating primates and realized that one of the best ways to protect them was to make people understand them better. Even better she realised the potential for the baboons to generate revenue to the local community.
Dr Strum website
This is exactly what is happening on the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro, Shompole. Every day Joel goes out to study a troop close to the research centre. To join him on one of these walks is a great experience.
Starting at 6.30 am, or even earlier, you walk along the river to find their sleeping tree. The baboons we are going to see have quite a small home range, about two kilometres of river bank and vegetation, adjacent to the research center. Joel knows exactly where they have spent the previous night.
When I was there it was desperately dry, the only highly nutritious food at the time were figs. We spent a while watching them feed in these amazing fig trees. The ripened figs were a timely offering, only a week before foraging was even harder for the baboons and some of the bigger bolder males were snatching young goats from the herds drinking at the river!
This act of desperation could mean death to these baboons as the Masai are extremely accurate with their spears and rungus……
The baboon walk is not only about baboons but is also a fantastic nature walk. We saw many interesting things at close range including nightjars and yellow winged bats sleeping in the bushes, and Joel knows very well the trees and vegetation. Thanks Joel!