Bum’s the Word
By Dave Rattle – Kommetjie, Cape Town.
We have two guest cottages in Kommetjie – where the baboons are. The baboons are always getting a bad press but, as long as there’s no food around, they are the most delightful and gentle creatures. I always recommend a walk with the Cape Peninsula baboons to all our guests who stay at Longbeach Lodge and Glen Cottage – it’s an experience second only to seeing the mountain gorillas!!
And whenever we talk about baboons my brother-in-law always brings up an incident that happened to us last year with a chuckle – for him, apparently, it’s high humour! We were walking along the coastline just past Simon’s Town. When we got back to the bakkie there was a small troop of baboons sitting beside it playing and grooming and there was also a very large male – sitting right on top of the canopy. To access the vehicle we obviously had to do something …
I don’t remember why, but I landed up at the back end of the vehicle whilst the others were at the front. They started making ‘shoo, shoo, baboon’ noises as they walked slowly forward with the intention of gently moving the troop away, but meanwhile there I was, right in the path of their retreat! The smaller females and the babies soon moved and, taking no notice of me, drifted on past, but the big male didn’t budge from the roof until the very last minute.
Then suddenly, galvanised into action, he vaulted down and headed straight at me, very fast indeed! Aggression! Oh my God! This was it! With no chance of moving out of the way, this was my time – quite certainly the way I would go! Mauled to death by a giant “silverback”! My life flashed before my eyes – but also some race memory that told me – be submissive! Avert your eyes! Turn your back! Show him your bum!
That suited me fine – it was as much an automatic attempt at major flinching from the anticipated impact as trying to be clever and ‘act baboon’, and I turned around fast and bent down like a naughty schoolboy with my backside presented to the headmaster.
And then, suddenly, he was past me but, as he went, he delivered a hefty whack on my raised posterior – a contemptuous thwackka-whakka-whack that said to me in no uncertain terms: “Now bugger off and stop annoying me – AND DON’T GET IN MY WAY AGAIN!!”
And let me tell you, I never have!!
Anybody staying in the Cape Peninsula should experience the baboons – now – before it’s too late! At Longbeach Lodge or Glen Cottage we’d be thrilled to organise a mornings’ walk with the baboons up in their own habitat on the mountain, with professional supervision.
Don’t miss this unique experience!!