near Golul, Jebel Marra, Sudan 1981

It was quite a shock to see it in front of me: a strange thing, but certainly animal, white-skinned and with hair on only part of its face. I was patrolling, checking that everything was safe.  My group lives in the foothills around the mountains here, with lots of tasty grasses and shrubs - not so close to the peaks or the lakes, but with many streams to drink from.  As I patrolled, so I looked back from time to time and was happy to see the young ones were playing. They were all over that big tree, chattering away and swinging on the branches. It was an attractive sight, made me proud to be a parent, and to be protecting them. That’s why we adults patrol the mountain: and patrolling is what I was doing when I saw him.

Approaching Jebel Marra

Approaching Jebel Marra

I smelt him first. In this warm season, it’s sometimes really hard to see things approaching. The grass is high, up to the head of the white animal when it stood on its two legs, so I was using my nose. But when anything is close enough to smell, it’s already a threat.

So when I caught the scent, I moved towards it and bared my teeth. We saw each other, suddenly, across a small area where the grass was slightly thinner. I had never seen one so close so I stood up, tall and threatening. We didn’t look at each other for long. When big male baboons like me stand on two legs we stand above the level of the grass and I could see the strange one as it ran away, really fast back down off the mountain.