Visiting the Kinda Baboons, Zambia

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As our goal was to see the biggest mammal migration, in the work to get there we found out that a rare type of Baboon live in the same area. It’s called the Kinda Baboon (Papio kindae). Excited about thisfact, we decided to visit the research project investigating their behavior.

Kasanka National Park is the only national park in the world where you can find this baboon, although the species can be found in southern Tanzania to north-eastern Angola. Kasanka is a small park in north-western Zambia mostly famous for holding the greatest gathering of any mammal in the world – 10 million bats! It’s not home to all of the big five, which are the ones tourists usually are looking for. The big five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion & leopard) is great to see of course, but there is more to a wildlife safari than watching some sleeping lions! It’s where the action is that you like to be! Kasanka’s options are alternative, especially for the more experienced safari tourist.

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We headed from Lusaka with the German couple Sabine and Thomas in their huge overland truck – that’s where we last stopped our blog post. The huge size of the car could have given us problem in the park, since its roads are not made for vehicles of this size. (Un)Fortunately a car in a similar or even bigger size had been driving in the park the day before bringing down bushes and branches on the roadside, effectively clearing the road for us. Also, it effectively prevented us from getting any kind of bad conscious…

As we got to the campsite it was pitch black. Animals were running on the roads and scattered bats flew across the moon-lit sky. We cooked dinner together with Sabine & Thomas in their car with pasta, mangold and blue cheese. Delicious. As we went to the toilet, white eyes were shining in the bushes around us. Antelopes were stirring the leaves loudly and a warthog could be heard grunting. If you spend your first night in the bush, like Julia did, it can be hard to sleep as you hear the wildlife lurking around on the other side of the paper-thin cloth. Kasanka doesn’t have any lions, but elephants and hippos are intimidating enough.

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The next morning we packed our tent at 05.00. We hurried to get ready to walk with the Kinda Baboons. When we came to the research camp and met Malih and Kennedy, two scouts taking behavioral data on the baboons, and we went out in to follow the baboons directly. To see the baboons you do best in waking up early. In the morning the baboons are calm and easy to follow, and at the same time the sun is not roasting you.

The Kinda Baboon is sometimes considered as a subspecies of the Yellow Baboon which in general is a very common animal throughout southern Africa. However the Kinda Baboons is distinctly different morphologically, enough to merit it to a separate species. The most obvious thing for someone who doesn’t know much about baboons, like us, is the white-furred babies (although sometimes they are black too). This is an eye-catching thing.

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Take a close look at the white baby. Don’t you think they look like a small little creature out of any fairy tale? Their appearance would work excellent in anything from Narnia to Lord of the Rings, if you ask us.

The Kinda Baboons are also distinctly smaller than the Yellow Baboons with dominant males being in a similar size of the females of other species. If you like to know more about the Kinda Baboon you can read it here. The Kinda Baboon project is also active in the management of the conservation project in the which is an important part in keeping poachers away from the national park. It gives the local kids an education and in return they prevent poaching in a sustainable way. More about the community work will come in the following posts.

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Exhausted from the ridiculously hot sun, which fried us unbearably long as Wilhelm had to stop for photographing flowers on the way back, we prepared for the epic scenes of the world’s biggest mammal migration! Bats!




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