Safaris are fantastic places to see wildlife in a very natural setting. With vast expanses of land and forest, the animals can roam freely while enjoying the safety of living in a protected area. Safaris like this one provide opportunities for people to observe the animals without having them caged or provided limited space.
This troop of baboons was wandering from one section of shrub to another, foraging for food as they went. But in the middle of their journey, several decided that the road was a good place to lie down and nap. A baboon lying still is an opportunity for another to come and groom it.
The motorists that were watching these antics were delighted, even though the troop impeded the flow of traffic for a considerable period of time. They had a very good chance to get some close up photographs and video while this was going on. The baboons seemed very unconcerned and only mildly interested in the humans in the cars.
This is a very natural behaviour in the wild that helps them keep free of fleas, ticks, and other external parasites. The baboon doing the work is rewarded with a little food for his or her efforts. The baboons will actually focus on the areas that are more difficult to reach.
But cleanliness and looking for food are not the only two reasons that baboons do this. It is part of social bonding that is very important to the tribe. It is also a way of establish social hierarchy. It is actually more common for the females to groom the males than the other way around. This seems to be an agreement that pays the males for their protection of the troop and the infant baboons.
Adult male baboons are large and powerful. They possess formidable canine teeth and jaws powerful enough to break bones. Despite their ability to be ferocious as a defensive behaviour, attacks on people are extremely rare.
Baboons typically live 20-30 years in the wild, but can reach as much as 45 years of age in captivity.