Not too long ago I briefly wrote about the relationship between baboons and impala, I had honestly thought I’d seen it all when it came to these two species interacting with one another. However, in mid November 2018, I witnessed something that you probably wouldn’t believe without evidence. Thankfully I have videos and pictures to prove it!
I was bumbling a long one morning with Shannon, it was exceptionally hot and no sign of the rains arriving either. We had seen a mating pair of lions which we watched for ages, plenty of elephants and at one point we were surrounded by an enormous herd of buffalo. Camp had shut down so there was no rush to get back and we wanted to make the most of our last full day safari, except that we were starting to feel hungry and began our journey back to camp, where there was a tasty lunch waiting for us. We decided to take the extra long way home or as we call it the ‘scenic route’. It paid off in more ways than one.
I slammed on the breaks and pointed into the distance, there was an impala ewe giving birth, it was the last thing I wanted to see before leaving the Zambezi Valley. We watched from quite a distance, this is where binoculars come in handy. Both Shannon and I were in absolute awe but the ewe didn’t seem to be very happy about the current situation. She was on edge, constantly looking around, pacing up and down. I maneuvered the car into a better position but still keeping our distance from the impala. That’s when we spotted the baboons, two to be exact. Initially they were sitting up in the shade of the ana trees, feeding on the pods, minding their own business- or so we thought. The impala got a fright and trotted off in the opposite direction, much to my surprise the baboons followed her. Basically to cut a long story short (this went on for a good 20min) every time the impala moved, the baboons would follow at a distance. They must have been able to see that she was giving birth and plotting to steal the lamb away from its mother as soon as it touched the ground. This is what typically happens but I’ve never seen baboons using this technique.
I stopped videoing for about 30sec to take some photos, the exact moment the impala had enough of the baboons nonsense. She charged straight towards one of the baboons, the baboon didn’t flinch and stood his ground. He then grabbed her by the ears, she bucked and leapt about trying to free herself from the formidable grip of the baboon. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I then quickly switched back to videoing in an attempt to try and capture the rest of this unbelievable scene. Then it got even more interesting, another impala ewe raced into the area presumably to help the struggling ewe but as she arrived, the chaos was over and the impala ewe managed to free herself and ran off back in the direction from which she’d come from.
Shannon and I, in utmost disbelief, reassured one another that we hadn’t been hallucinating. We gave the ewe plenty of space before following, she found a nice quiet spot up on a ridge under the shady ana trees. After another 10min she eventually gave birth to a beautiful lamb, it took about 30min for the little one to get on to its feet and suckle for the first time. This was truly the most magical thing to witness, against all odd the impala ewe did everything she could to protect her unborn lamb and she did an exceptionally good job of it too.
If you’d like to see the video I was talking about, please head to our Facebook Page and share it with your friends and family! This is just another reason why you should choose Zambia as your next safari destination.
Written by: Tayla McCurdy