Monday, March 10, 2008

Baboon Feast

February 1st 2008. Guest post by Maja Gaspersic-Cisse

6h40. Five of us arrive to the Djendji plateau above the water source. Chimps spent the last night over there. We hear pant-hoots. And baboon barks. Wally, Elhadji, and Fiona stay to examine the nests, Djannny (Dondo Kante alias DK) and I search for chimps.

6h52: We spot six individuals on a »Kijeno« (Pterocarpus sp.) tree; I think they're just eating its flowers as they often do lately. Not! Something else is going on. (See photo of Karamoko, right, with prey in hand!).

After a moment, they're out of sight, but we hear a lot of screams and movements. Fifteen minutes after the theft we find them in another patch of woodland at the edge of the plateau. Tia is on a “Kijeno” tree, eating its flowers, David below with a piece of meat. No one interferes. DK sees Bandit and KL, each with a piece of carcass. (Lupin, below, has stolen Karamoko's capture!)

Almost an hour later David still chews on that piece of meat, he mixes it with a bundle of grass blades. Tia sits besides him, but he doesn’t even look at her. Then he leaves that chunk on the ground and chews foliage. And Tia takes the prey. Eventually David returns to her and literally begs for a piece (with outstretched hand), but now she ignores him. She walks away with it. Baboons are still around. Still screaming...disturbed? (see David, below right, with head of baboon visible).

Later – 10h30: Bandit sits right besides Farafa and stares at her, while she eats the carcass. The whole group then moves to the water-source.

A few steps from the tiny source Fanta plays with the remaining piece of monkey. It’s mostly fur and, for a second, she puts it around her head like a necklace. When she climbs up the giant rock, she puts the piece between her thigh and her belly and carries it higher upslope. At 11h45 she appears again, still with that chunk of prey and again carrying it the same way.

A minute later the furry piece is not seen. Fanta plays alone, with one hand holding to a vine, dangling, and with three limbs slapping the trunk of a Ficus tree. And she tries to scare use, hanging above us, shaking branches and swaying in child-like displays. Fiona joins us and is pretty excited when Fanta makes an elaborate day nest above us…

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