MONKEY BUSINESS

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I had rather ignored the three-story tower in the camp at Djuma where we were staying; the view from the deck and the boma was expansive and open and the tower nestling into the trees to one side didn’t seem to offer anything new.

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You can see the structure here, as one of our party carries some snacks down to the boma, a round seating area around a fire pit. (The word is from Swahili and originally indicated a fortified village square or place were cattle were herded overnight – in the South African Game Lodge culture it always indicates an open gathering place around a fire.) The snapshot below gives some idea.

23a

However I am getting side-tracked into semantics… Perhaps I should start with an indication of where we were: here! The link takes you to the remarkably responsive live webcam at the waterhole, positioned in the tree which just breaks into the right-hand frame of the above photo. The rest of the Djuma webpage is only a click away from the camera… One last shot before I return to the monkeys, taken across Louis and my personal plunge pool outside our suite. The suites are spread out along a path through the bush, so that you have complete privacy whilst showering in your outside shower; something which can be done easily here in mid-winter; although we decided not to use the pool!

21

OK – one last one before we return to the monkeys: taken in the boma by our hostess, yours truly on the left, camera in hand…

Vuyatela (143)

And on to the other primates… The view from the tower was no better after all. But soon I could photograph a Redbilled Hornbill sitting in the dead tree near me.

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And across in a  combretum tree, sunning her belly in the last sun, a monkey was chewing away at its seeds.

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At which point I swung around to take these photos. Monkeys are naturally inquisitive, and as happens so easily around human habitation, they have learnt that there is food to be stolen from the serving area which is open in many directions. And they have learnt to be as curious about human behaviour as humans are about theirs.

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And so there they were, peering at me across the canvas sunshades of the tower, scampering through the trees surrounding it.

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Especially with the two youngest it became a game of hide-and-seek; they would pop up unexpectedly and I would point and shoot, poor focus often being a function of movement – theirs and swinging the camera – rather than shutter speed.

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As the game intensifies I move onto the stairs and capture these two shots split seconds apart as a monkey moves onto the upper deck I have just vacated.

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Finally… shall we call it stalemate? I’ve got you in sight and you’ve got me…

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These are Vervet Monkeys,  Cercopithecus aethiops, although zoologists aren’t nearly as set on scientific nomenclature as we are. They are the most common monkey in Southern Africa, often looked on as vermin because of the ease with which they learn to deal with human habitation and the damage they can do to fruit and vegetable crops. They are found all along East Africa up into Ethiopia.

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