The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

July 18, 2006


BB and I recently visited the "Wild African Safari" not far from Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada's beautiful Golden Horshoe region around the eastern Great Lakes.

There were lions and tigers and bears, oh my. (OK, only lions, giraffes, rhinos, llamas and a bunch of prey animals). But no creature was as bold and endearing as the baboon (aka to BB as the bamboon).

Being the daring adventurers that we are, and seeing as it was not my vehicle anyway, we hopped into BB's Tracker, donned our pith helmets, made sure we had a full tank of gas and 30 days worth of food and water, and set out.

No way we were going to go in the big white sissy buses. We were going to experience this first-hand.

I wanted to hear monkeys screeching and glimpse exotic birds flying and caw-caw-cawing as I had many years ago upon entering India from Pakistan, thus making me feel I was Rudyard Kipling or at least Baloo the Bear.

Instead, once the huge electronic gates opened to grant us entry in to the game reserve, we couldn't hear a dang thing and the only animals I could see or sense were the mosquitoes and sparrows. Harumph.

We trekked on around the bend, me in the driver's seat and fumbling with my camera. "Roll your window up," BB ordered. I wondered if this was like some sort of Bermuda Triangle, where vehicles entered and were never seen again.

I complied with the window command -- it WAS park rules. We passed a few water birds as we snaked up the winding road. I had warned BB: "Don't expect animals to come up to the vehicle the way they showed it in the brochures."

We wound around the bend, slowly. Other touristy types behind us, clearly unable to read the directions asking motorists to FORM TWO LANES PLEASE, tail-gated me as I led our now four-vehicle convoy.

We passed some llamas, some breed of African cow, a few other birds and some monster water buffalo something-or-others with the biggest horns I'd ever seen. Some walked right up to the Tracker, snorted and then went on their way.

Snap. Snap. Snap. "You roll the window down and I'll snap and then roll it back up," I suggested to BB. It worked, kind of.

Then it was up to the lions, predictably snoozing under a man-made rock enclosure. The big male raised his head on cue, let me get a pic of his big mane and all, then went back to sleep.

We rolled along into an area filled with more trees, and that's where we met the most amazing animals of all -- the baboons. They came out of the bush like zombies in those scary movies.

On all fours, they just marched towards us, stopping to munch on this or that along the way, some with babies on their backs or clinging to their bellies, others just deciding to have a go at a little sex while en route (as above pic shows).

They had no fear. They leapt on to other vehicles, one SUV behind us a particular attraction to them. One baboon male started tearing the black rubber weather strip from around the fellow's windshield and pulling on his wipers.

We felt a little ignored, to be honest, as I snapped away at the pack of animals paying visits to every vehicle behind us but not ours. Until this little fellow decided to introduce himself.

This mischievous little mammal was just a delight to experience and he made the whole adventure what it was, really.

So much like us, but so innocent and instinctive and curious and full of his own little need to explore the world.

I had a super-duper closeup of him but can't somehow access it at the moment. There was every intention on my part to roll down my window and try to touch him, but these lovely creatures can and will bite and we didn't want to risk having a whole bunch of adults come flying at us to protect the little one.

After about five minutes, we had to move on because a traffic jam was in the making and the baboons' attention was diverted to one of those big white buses, which they quickly converged upon.

We gently rolled on and our little visitor fell off, apparently upset that we were leaving. I snapped many more pictures of other baboons coming and going, and we carried on to see rhinos, giraffes, bison and the like.

But the baboons, for us, were the be-all, end-all. A bold, beautiful bunch of beasts with balls.