Archive for March 1st, 2020

It’s Primate Time

Monkeys — Baboons — What’s the difference?

Well, just like all roses are flowers, but not all flowers are roses…

roses        sunflower

So similarly, all baboons are monkeys, but not all monkeys are baboons.

I preferred watching the antics of the monkeys, but let’s first take a look at the baboons.

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There are five species of baboons, but the one we saw in South Africa was the Chacma Baboon.  It is one of the heaviest, with males weighing from fifty to nearly one hundred pounds, and lives in social groups. These troops did not seem at all worried about the humans driving slowly by.

While the monkeys we will see later are both arboreal and terrestrial, the baboons are not arboreal. You will find them on the ground eating, walking, or hitching a ride. Their diet consists of everything from fruit, leaves and insects to rodents, birds, small antelope, and Vervet monkeys,  They are not looked upon favorably because they will also raid human dwellings to feast on goats, sheep, and chicken.

There are two kinds of monkeys in South Africa — The Vervet and the Samango


Both Vervet and Samango monkeys are arboreal where they have a diet primarily of fruit, leaves, and insects. The Vervet is more common in South Africa and can cause a lot of damage to commercial fruit orchards.

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This shot clearly shows the silver-gray body and black face of the Vervet. Although my pictures show individual monkeys, they are social animals and also live in troops.

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And I was lucky enough to get this little guy quenching his thirst.

As you can see, their usual diet is often supplemented by anything they might find–or steal–from humans. You will find monkeys anywhere people picnic and at many  outdoor restaurants. While stopping for lunch in Kruger National Park, one jumped down and attempted to swipe my food, but Andries Van Wijk moved quickly to intervene. They were both so quick, I barely knew what happened. By the time I spied the little pilferer, he was already looking for his next victim. 

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Next we’ll take a look at some beautiful and fascinating antelopes. Let me know if there is anything else you’re curious about or would like to see.

There is so much to see in South Africa, and with the help of our wonderful guides Andries and Steffi Van Wijk, I look forward to seeing more on our next trip there. 

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