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 Post subject: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:17 pm 
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I was quite surprised a week or so back when I saw the baboons swimming in the Satara WH. Yesterday they were at it again and seemed to be at home in the water.

I had always believed that baboons hated water. A bit of research on the Internet showed me that this was an erroneous belief – baboons cannot swim and are therefore afraid of deep water – in fact the chance of them drowning when in deep water is greater than for humans. It is however not uncommon for baboons to wade through shallow water or for youngsters to splash on the edges of pools, especially when it is very hot.

Kristina Cawthon Lang (National Primate Research Centre, University of Wisconsin) writes as follows: “One unusual characteristic seen in young olive baboons in Nigeria is their ability to swim and dive. They have been observed swimming, with their faces submerged in a river, and diving from trees overhanging the river. They have not been observed foraging during these activities, and presumably swimming and diving is a form of play among these baboons” (Pfeyffers 1999-2000).
It was further noted that this seemed to be unique to that particular troop.

I am inclined to believe that the amount of swimming and playing in the water that we are seeing at Satara is not normal and standard behavior common to all baboons and could be restricted to this troop. If this is so, I consider it to be a rare sight and would then like to see it noted as such.

Having said that, I am certainly no expert on baboon behavior and would be grateful if an expert could weigh in on the subject even if it proves that I have been wrong about the whole matter


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:32 pm 
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I am under correction, but these baboons are not olive baboons , rather (Papio ursinus)or more commonly the chacma baboon, and it seems that this has been recorded before (in 2000) . The reason baboons swim is the same reason humans swim, to cool down, and also to have fun,,,much like us.

It would be intersesting although to get an expert in on this.

It is also very entertaining to watch.

Ladyhawke :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:45 pm 
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Pic for you from satara today of baboon in the water

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:55 pm 
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Thanks for the input LadyHawke.

It is good that you emphasize that these Chacmas that we have here are not the same as olive baboons. Reading up on the olive baboons, I have however noted that there are many similarities between them. It is probably not scientifically correct to draw a tendency (or in this case exception) from one species to another but this is all I have on which to base my assumption. This is why I too would appreciate an expert to weigh in here.

Incidentally, and for the record, my statement that baboons cannot swim is not entirely true. The level of their swimming skills is however apparently very rudimentary – little above splashing around with little or no forward motion.

While I agree that they go into the water to cool off, the rarity value that I believe we are seeing at Satara is the relative depth of the water they are playing in. All other photos I find on the ‘net show water them cooling off in water which is merely inches deep.

Again the question: Just how common is this Satara behavior?


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:46 pm 
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It occurs about once a fortnight on satara cam, so reasonably common :D

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:28 am 
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Bodembo, I have seens them in deeper water, and I have seen them in water deep enough for their bodies to be completely submerged. I really belief that they enjoy swimming, as they feel safe.

Tom 124 I'm in agreement, seems to be a regular occurance with the Satara baboons. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:39 pm 
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By asking about whether this was a common phenomenon I did not mean how regular it occurs but rather whether this is common behavior to all Chacma baboons or have the Satara troop taught themselves the skill. Has anyone seen it at Orpen for example?

Ladyhawke, you have answered this question in part. I would still be interested to know whether this is a natural skill common to all baboons or an acquired one. It would for example be interesting to hear whether your sightings lead you to believe the phenomenon is fairly widespread or did you see it in a localized area, perhaps the stomping ground of another troop that may have learned the skill. Whenever I have seen babbons at water, they seemed very wary of the stuff.

I saw a clip on YouTube where a young baboon was teaching himself to play in the water and it was clear that he gained the confidence to venture into deeper water (still relatively shallow though) within an amazingly short time. One must therefore accept that within a troop there has got to be one questing soul who thinks…. Hmm, I wonder if… If it works, someone may follow his example. If it doesn’t, he becomes one of the Papio Chacma Darwin Award winners.


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 3:09 pm 
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I beleive that all baboons can swim,,, it is not aquired by certain troops from certain areas, adult baboons will not swim as often as young baboons, but will join in on the fun when they don't have to be on guard for any possible danger...

It might not happen commonly in the KNP, but it surley is not an unusual phenomenon amongst chacma baboons.

Ladyhawke

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 4:02 pm 
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I was in the KNP a few days ago and at the Timbavati waterhole we saw a whole bunch of baboons swimming and playing in the water. I am busy with my trip report: An early December in Satara and will upload a video clip of this in a few days. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Hi Mel123, Your trip sounds amazing, cannot wait to see your pic's , reading your comments when entering the park, I totally understand that feeling,,, :wink: pure homecoming bliss takes over you,,nothing els matters, the smell, the sounds , the long winding gravel roads, the incredibile heat,specially in Decemeber,,the oasis that you call home for a few days, the exitement sittinh around the braai fire at night,,,, only in Kruger....

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:34 pm 
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You're going to make me cry Ladyhawke! :lol:
The baboon clip is posted. It's on day 3 of the trip report, to be found here.


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:38 am 
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Thanks Mel123 and all others for your input. I loved the video and it is obvious that some of the baboons love playing in the water. Others simply paddle with decorum as us older folk tend to do. I did however note that the video again shows baboons ‘swimming’ in reasonably shallow water. Granted, there were the odd individuals who lay down neck deep but from the one baboon running across the pool, one can see that the water is not exceptionally deep.

Please guys, I am not disputing the fact that baboons do play in water but I still do not believe that this is common behavior to all Chacma baboons and also that they do not do it in deep water. One must perhaps also now start considering when it is that they play in the water. A few weeks ago, before the rains, it was very hot and dry at Satara and we saw them play in the water on a daily basis. But under that same weather conditions, we did not see the troop(s) at Orpen in the water. Now that it has rained, we do not even see the Satara troop enjoy their swimming sessions. Different troop? Cooler/less dry environment than before?

Seeing evidence of them playing in the water is wonderful but it contrasts to my many visits to the park over the last 50 odd years. Believe me I have watched many baboon troops, especially over the last 10 years or so since they became my favorite photographic subjects. I have yet to see them swim to the extent that I have on the cam. I can only surmise that the reason for this is that I travel the circus route (Skukuza; L/Sabie) often and most of my baboon observations are along the river which would be too deep and dangerous for baboons.


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:07 pm 
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I see that the baboons are enjoying their dip again today. Can anyone please tell me what the temperature is at Satara today.


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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:10 pm 
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Tryhere bodembo :D

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 Post subject: Re: Swimming Baboons
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:02 pm 
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Thanks Dotty.
You're a star!


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