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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Bushbabies, Baboons and Monkeys



Introduction: The lesser Bushbaby (Galago senegalensis) is named due to its wailing cry, a sound which is often heard at night in woodland areas. They are renowned for their spectacular leaping abilities between trees. They are a most attractive mammal, with their soft furry bodies, thick bushy tails, huge eyes and extremely mobile, membranous ears. Bushbabies are nocturnal and arboreal (live in trees) and family groups ranging in size from 2 to 7 members. At times they may venture on the ground, when they walk either on their hind legs or on all fours. Although family groups hold small territories, foraging for food is done alone.

Distribution: Bushbabies can be found around much of Namibia and are frequent visitors to the rest camp at Waterberg, as well as to Bushbaby Lodge in the Grootfontein area.

Diet: Tree sap and fruit form the basis of their diet, but this is supplemented by insects such as moths, grasshoppers, termites, spiders and small beetles.

Coloring: The lesser Bushbaby is very light grey in colour with yellowish legs.

Breeding: Females have a short oestrus period during winter. They generally give birth to twins before the rainy season, which is immediately followed by a second oestrus. Well before the onset of the next dry season, a second set of twins are born. Gestation period is 125 days. A female will mate with up to six males during the peak of her oestrus cycle.

Size: Length 37cm (includes a 20cm tail) with a mass of around 150g.


Introduction: The Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus) is a large monkey with a dog-like face and large, prominent canines. These features give it a more aggressive appearance than other primates. The chacma baboon lives in family groups of up to 150 individual and these troops have no single dominant male. Baboons are notorious for becoming a pest around humans where they often disturb rubbish bins. They will tear open tents in their search for free food with consummate ease.

Distribution: They are extremely common in central Namibia, particularly at Okonjima, home to the AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organization, dedicated to the long-term conservation of Namibia's large carnivores, notably cheetah and leopard. They will often be seen on the side of the road.

Diet: It is probably easier to list the food baboons don't eat as opposed to catalogue what is does. They forage for grass, seeds, roots, bulbs, flowers, bark, mushrooms, fruit, insects, small vertebrates and eggs. Grass is their most important item, which might go some way to explain why they forage around human areas, especially towards the end of the dry season. Regular access to drinking water is essential to their survival.

Coloring: There is a wide range of variation and colour of individuals, which depends on sex, age and location. In Namibia they are a 'grizzled' yellowish brown with a blackish band along the back, on the crown of the head and back. The male has a distinctive bright blue scrotum.

Breeding: Baboons do not have a definite breeding season and are sexually active throughout the year. Gestation period is 6 months, after which a single young is born.

Size: A mature male measures 1.6m from head to tail and weighs up to 45 kg. Females measure 1.1m and with a mass of about 20 kg.


Introduction: The vervet monkey (Cercopithecus pygerythrus) is a predominately savannah woodland species, generally absent from open scrubland and open grass. They will penetrate totally unsuitable terrain, to settle along rivers and streams that provide fruit-bearing trees. This adventurous streak accounts for commando-style raids on lodges and campsites. Vervets are highly social animals, and occur in well-organized troops. The dominance hierarchy within the troop is maintained by threat and aggression. Fighting is one-sided and non-retaliatory. When a subordinate member is bitten, it redirects its anger to the next member down the order.

Distribution: In Namibia the vervet monkey is found around the Orange River, in the north eastern Caprivi Region and the rocky hills in the Grootfontein and Tsumeb districts.

Diet: Vervet monkeys tend to be omnivorous, feeding on fruit, flowers, leaves and insects, which constitutes the bulk of their diet. It is unusual even when hungry to swallow food directly after chewing, and it is usually stored in their cheek pouches.

Coloring: Silver - grey hair and black face fringed with white. The male vervet has a bright blue scrotum, an important symbol of its status in the troop, as a green one is a sign of immaturity!

Breeding: Female vervet monkeys do not pass from male to male during their 'receptive period'. They are a seasonal breeder with single young born between March and May after a gestation period of 140 days. Troops will accept strange young juveniles.

Size: Males have a mass of 6kg and measure 1.1m in length. Females are slightly smaller and weigh only 4kg.

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