We had a pleasant surprise waiting for us in the field on Monday. Well, several, actually. Firstly, despite finding "our troop" during the search the previous night, it turned out that it was an entirely different troop. We know little about them except they're small, quiet, and show up out of thin air to get in the way when you want to collect data. Their big old male was throwing a huge male fit where the adults all chased each other around while shouting and jumping.
I was following around a female I thought to be Punzle since she had a young baby who would be the target of many grunts. However, the child looked different to me. Was it just the natural process of getting older and the fur changing colors?
This was a true newborn baboon, a "blackie" as we call them. As one would expect, the name derives from the extreme darkness of their hair, which fades with age. Wendy had given birth sometime over the weekend and we were the first humans to see her new child. There will be a great amount of grunting in the troop with the newborn around.
I've mentioned Rickey before. He's a sub-adult male, probably between 6 and 7 years old. Every troop has one like him: a sub-adult who invariably has an attitude problem.
We're headed back to the car so we can go home, and there are a few juvenile males sitting on the roof. They dash away as we open the doors and start doing our thing. This is normal behavior.
Tina mentions some things about "testosterone" at which point, tired of waiting and sick of Freddie's antics, I say "I'll take care of it," and approach the car, key in hand. I carefully unlock the automobile, occasionally glancing at Rickey, who's head is drooped over the roof a few feet from me. No aggressive expressions from either of us. I open the door, climb in, and shut it with more than the usual force.
Rickey remains immobile. He'll never know what hit him. There are several ways to do this, and at this point, I am safe and it all just becomes enjoyable from my end. I shift into reverse before starting the car, then quickly turn the key in the ignition and pull out of the parking slot.
The combination of engine noise and sudden backwards motion sends Freddie scrambling for stable earth. We all have a good laugh, though are sobered somewhat when we remember that the back left portion of the car is covered in baboon urine. Poop and pee makes our work feel more legitimate sometimes, and it certainly gives one's car the real African feel. Real African smell, too.