Today is my first full day back at Kinda Camp since late October. I arrived yesterday afternoon with just enough time to put sheets on the bed, see the baboons, and have cheese and crackers for dinner.
I arrived by taxi to the Kasanka gate where I had to wait for a Kasanka National Park 4x4 to come pick me and bring me to Kinda Camp. While waiting I met up with one of my scouts, Kingston. He was just pulling out after 10 days of following the baboons. We had lots to chat about but I was only able to get a few updates before my ride arrived. While I was back in the U.S. for my friend’s wedding and my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary Kingston and George, my scouts, worked diligently, following the baboons daily.
According to Kingston two nights ago one of our subadult males was taken by a leopard. In November a tourist and Kasanka scout also saw a leopard chasing a baboon. So although I had been skeptical, the rumors are true, there is at least one leopard in the area. This is good for the park but not so good for the Fibwe Baboon Group.
Yesterday evening I took a walk to the groups most common sleeping site. Right in the road, in the daylight I caught a civet drinking from a pool of water. The civet didn’t see me. It was the first time I have seen a civet in full daylight and it was astounding. After the civet disappeared into the grass, I moved on and sure enough the group filed in around 18:45 as the sun was setting. According to Kingston and George there are at least two new infants in the group. I failed to see them as the grass is now very tall. I did see baby Robin, the youngest infant in the group when I was here last. She is not so little anymore but still has her distinct natal coat: white body and black head. She was riding on her mother’s back, Lady Godiva.
I awoke this morning to sounds of the bush. It is so amazing to be back. George arrived around 8am. We went out to lo0k for the baboons this afternoon. Welcome to the rainy season. It was clear when we left but by the time we had walked the farthest we planned to go from camp a giant thunderstorm hit us. By the time we reached Kinda Camp we were soaked through. It was fun but I can see it getting old. I did learn something: always wear my rubber boots and stay away from cotton clothing for the next 3 months.