My Life as a Baboon Whisperer

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Over the weekend I found a new website which I like, It has a variety of news and special interest stories.  I was browsing through it when I came upon this irresistible article, “My Life as a Baboon Whisperer.”    Apparently in South Africa alpha baboons have become a local menace, kind of like the bears in Northern Minnesota. The alpha males are raiding local garbage cans as a food source.

In 2009 a South African city decided to start exterminating the baboons doing the raiding. The article is written by the person who started Baboon Matters. Baboon Matters is an organization which tries behavioral alternatives to shooting the offending animals.   The organization discovered the following:  “so-called ‘raiding baboons’ are almost always alpha males, and killing them creates a vacuum in the troop hierarchy that results in chaos.”

When I read the quote, the first thought flitting through my mind was, “This sounds a lot like politics in the USA at present.” The second thought was, “It is so nice to know Baboons Matter!”

Here is the link to the article:

After reading this so many questions that might fit at the end of this post went through my head:

What kind of whisperer do I want to be? How does this situation serve as a metaphor for American politics right now?  Who will save us?

What question would you pose for others after reading this?

24 thoughts on “My Life as a Baboon Whisperer”

  1. I loved the Baboon Whisperer article….saddened they were forced to stop and assist elsewhere.

    I don’t know how it relates to politics…but I do see a correlation to that and trophy huntings….in particular our wolves.

    It certainty shouldn’t be the animal who needs training but rather the humans who need educating and trained understating as to how to live WITH the wild animals….not lure and kill. Or as the Wisconsin farmer… eventually caught & given a mild fine…let domestic animals such as in his case cows…nearly starve to death & then when they do and wolves are lured by fresh meat (he would kill his own cows and leave out for the wolves) …the wolves are blamed, caught and or killed and the farmer was reimbursed for his loss of the cows.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. as i understand it the problem is that baboons are eating the garbage
    are they leaving a mess?
    is the garbage pick up company upset?
    why not set the trash out do it can be picked up
    daily by south african food control baboons
    maybe a guy could be hired to clean up after them and only impose a small fine on the people who made he food difficult for the baboons to take away cleanly
    a major concern would be if the baboons would suffer too much from eating all the garbage south africans put out. i done mean refuse i mean food with zero balu that will make the baboons fat and lazy oozing with sweat and strange gasses from ingesting things not fit for man nor beast. think about what gets left. watermelon rinds chicken bones coffee grounds these could be put in lockable reusable compost sorting bags while mashed potatoes, salad and bread crust go in another
    mold/no mold, dairy spoilage etc…
    it appears to me to be s sanitation sorting strategic opportunity
    if south africa could lead the way in compost management maybe we could pay them a royalty on all methods derived from the baboon trail of food scraps llc
    duluth has gotten famous for implementing a program where compostable waste is mixed with yard waste to create marvelous top soil all created at the waste management locations
    cape town leads the world the question is in what? animal cruelty or waste reform


    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for this article, Jacque! Two things come to mind:

    – It’s not always necessary to be trained to be active – Jenni says in the article “In response, Wally Peterson and I founded the Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG). I was just a housewife, with no scientific training”…
    Question: What do you do that you haven’t been trained for?

    – Perhaps to understand different factions than our own, we need to get to know each other better. There has been a lot of press about this lately. From the article: “We also took members of the public on extremely popular baboon walks, which did a lot to change perceptions of baboons.”
    Question: How would you go about getting to know someone with differing views from yours?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Q1: What I do (did) that I hadn’t been trained for? Being a mom and managing a chaotic household. I actually didn’t/don’t do the latter very well, so maybe it’s wrong to say I “did” that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think there are two ways of looking at “killing of the alpha males creates a vacuum in the hierarchy and results in chaos” as a metaphor for our current political and social situation.
    In one sense, the metaphorical “killing” of the alpha males– the individuals, not necessarily male, that provided continuity and stability and far-sightedness and nuance, by the election of Trump and his unfortunate sycophants, has resulted in comparable chaos in our government.
    At the same time, I think I see in a substantial cohort of the Trump base the belief that THEY are the rightful alpha males and that they are threatened with metaphorical “killing” in their loss of perceived power, status and, most emotionally, their masculinity. I see in Trump support a backlash against the changing role, attitudes toward, and need for traditional masculinity. That’s why Trump’s offensive behavior towards women didn’t make a significant dent in the support of his base. I think that’s also where a lot of the impulses toward nativism and white supremacy, not to mention homophobia and misogyny, come from.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I worked for about a dozen years as a volunteer member of a committee to direct the magazine put out by the International Wolf Center. The most persistent and troublesome issue we dealt with was human/wolf conflict. That general category included many types of behavior: wolves killing pet dogs, people killing wolves to protect livestock, people teaching wolves to accept food from humans and all kinds of efforts to keep wolves separate from people.

    I came away from that dozen-year experience discouraged about any and all efforts to reduce conflict. Both species “misbehaved.” Wolves living on a diet of deer were often quick to put lamb on the menu if sheep became available. People persisted in trying to feed wolves as if they were glamorous pets. People kept invading wolf habitat, building homes in wolf country without understanding they were shrinking wolf habitat by doing so.

    In the end, the only position I could embrace with a full heart was promoting the creation of large habitat zones where wolves could run free and act like wolves without forever getting in trouble with people.

    And frankly, from that point of view I feel African wildlife is doomed. There are too many people too deeply in poverty and too freely reproducing. I honor brave people who try to reduce conflict, but the historical trend is extremely discouraging.


      1. There are already some good size tracts of wild lands in Canada and the US. There was a concept knocking around that I really favored. It would link several pre-existing national parks and other wild lands in a continuous “belt” of great habitat stretching from near Mexico to the Canadian Rockies.

        It isn’t always a disaster when wolves and humans mix. Oddly enough, there is a place where wolves and humans have coexisted in better harmony than any other place and time in recorded history. The place? Minnesota. The time? Now.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I know a fair amount about wolves but almost nothing about baboons. So I cannot sensibly critique the argument that killing alpha males creates social disorganization in baboon societies.

    What I can say is that the same argument is offered to criticize killing wolves. The best wolf scholars disagree. Wolf society is organized on the assumption that wolves live short lives. Wolves of all types and ages die at high rates, and always have (even when humans were no threat). The whole point of wolf society is to have good leadership even when pack members frequently die. The hierarchy of wolf society exists to promote lower members to step up when a leader dies.

    I suspect it is very different with baboons. Wolves typically live five, six or seven years. Baboons commonly live to be 18. It seems likely to me that the death of a leader in baboon society would be more disruptive than such deaths are among wolves.

    I just can’t see any of this as reflecting on our national politics. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. think of wolf years like dog year 7 yrs per year
      a wolf life of 5-7 equals a political life of 35-50 years
      shoot the leaders as the become bold and it does cause chaos
      never try to inflict your level playing field on dogs i have lived by since i heard it and i realized i was inflicting my values and judgement as if i knew better
      i absolutely disagree with wolf killing because people think their wants take priority

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoyed the article. I don’t have any good ideas for questions, nor do I know very much about alpha males. It kinda made me think of this, though…


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