This is a multi purpose trip to the Mara. We need to test the latest starlight camera, find the best areas for our next lion film trip, try and understand the new boundary, political and rule changes around the Mara – and film some baboons.
Not the world’s most popular monkey, despised by many and unappreciated by most, the baboons here have been a revelation. Unable to film our first choice group until next week (because of politics), we have gone into the Olare Orok Conservancy on the Northern edge of the Mara reserve. The best group we could find has been grudgingly trusting – as long as we stay more than 50 metres away – and has routinely dragged us into rock fields or made us cross the same dry river 5 times in an hour.
But these baboons are true savannah monkeys. They don’t visit any lodge rubbish tips or Maasai settlements. They live entirely on the plains by their wits. And they seem to be very happy despite the dryness. Bickering and fighting are rare, while grooming and general niceness to other members of the group seems to be the norm. Loads of babies are always running about jumping on each other, while the big males perform sentinel duty at the edge of the group. Two nights running, they’ve chosen a beautiful open branched fever tree for roosting after prolonged social mucking about in the nearby river channel. I had no idea baboons were such nice and interesting monkeys