Baboons of the Flood

The Baboons of the Okavango Delta are some of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom for it is here in the Delta that the Baboons express behavioural traits that show us a link to our own behaviour - and how linked we are to nature.

I have studied Baboons closely in many wilderness areas of Africa, but it is in the Okavango that I found the most fascinating behaviour adaptations and an indication that our own human behaviour is linked to the behaviours in nature.

When the floodplains are dry the Baboons of the Delta behave in similar fashion to other Baboons around Africa but when the floodwaters arrive that the situation changes. Instead of moving away from flooded areas the Baboons have adapted to surviving in the flooded wilderness and spend a great deal of their time on the shallow floodplains feeding on the grasses and other water plants.

Crossing the Channels

The Baboons have their favoured roosting and feeding spots - and these are often on separate islands - and they have to cross channels between the islands. There are times of the year when the channels between islands are deeper than usual and it is at these times that interesting behaviour is noticed in the Baboon troops of the Okavango.

The individuality that arises at the edge of a channel is fascinating to watch, with each member of the troop displaying human-like tendencies. There are those who simply wade across the water on their hind legs, and those that jump-run through the channel, whilst others will run along the edge of the water screaming in anxiety.

Mothers with infants also display these tendencies - except with the youngsters clinging for dear life on the bellies of the mothers as they get soaked. Some mothers will rush through to the other side while others amble slowly across seemingly oblivious to the youngsters on their stomachs.

I have often wondered whether the actions of the Baboons at a water crossing are determined in their youth whilst clinging to their mothers' bellies.

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