A closer look at some of the residents at our Primate Rehabilitation Programme!

11 September 2018

Our new Primate Conservation programme in Zimbabwe is home to many and varied animals and birds, all with their own stories and experiences. In this post we are going to look at three of the most popular baboons at the sanctuary: Umfazi, Kuda and Benny.

Umfazi

Truly the founder and ambassador of the project, Umfazi (which means "married woman" in the local Shona dialect), was orphaned at just a few weeks old in 2013. She was brought to the owner, who made it her mission to create a haven where baboons could be safely rehabilitated and released back into their natural environment. The sanctuary was built to house Umfazi, and the rehabilitation and release programme began from there.

Umfazi is the big sister to all the baboons at the sanctuary, and is also firm friends with Klipie the Klipspringer. She is a Chacma baboon, one of four species found in Africa, and, before his release, was regularly found riding atop Bangwe, the orphaned warthog.

Kuda

Little Kuda was the victim of a mass troop poisoning where he lost his whole family when he was only a few days old. He was brought to the sanctuary in December 2015 and is now almost three years old. Kuda is Mr Sociable around the centre, and is always in the company of a long train of friends!

Benny

Benny was a little two month old baboon when his mother was killed by dogs in Marondera. He is now a confident 18 month old, whose best friend is Miles the monkey. They spend their days playing in the trees in the grounds, visiting all their furry friends! He will be returned to the wild once he is ready.

KNOW YOUR BABOONS

There are four species of baboon in Africa - Chacma (common to Southern Africa), Olive (found in north-central African savannah area), Guinea (found in west Africa) and the Yellow baboon (found in the south-central and east Africa).

Baboons are omnivores, happily munching on a wide array of meats and plants - basically they will eat almost anything edible. Umfazi's favourite food is grapes, Kuda's is oranges and Benny likes sunflower seeds!

Baboons are the world's largest primates, and spend most of their time on the ground. They use their speedy climbing skills to keep watch for predators at the top of trees. They also sleep and eat off the ground.

Baboons can also talk, and it is thought they have at least 30 different vocalisations which they use to communicate (loudly) with each other!

CHALLENGES FACING BABOONS

The baboon’s major predators are humans

Baboons are often intentionally poisoned and killed because they tend to be considered as a pest species. They are hunted for their skins and use of baboons in laboratories and medical research has also increased.

Baboons are losing their homes

Habitat loss due to overgrazing, agricultural expansion, irrigation projects, and overall human settlement growth is a threat to this species.

HOW CAN I HELP?

This project is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of Zimbabwe's baboons and primates, and their mission is for there to be no captive primates in Zimbabwe. Volunteer assistance is vital to the financial security of the centre, and also for the daily care of all the project's beloved animals.

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