Running on Vervet Time
We’re on a land safari today in Chobe National Park. Lion tracks were seen in the dirt on the road and our driver is following them.
We find the lions. It’s a breeding pair and both are sacked out in the shade. We watch for a while and then go back a short distance to a picnic area under a large tree.
|The birds are the first to come looking for food.|
While we enjoy our tea or coffee and cookies, I see some monkeys called vervets approaching. They swing up into the trees and soon are perched above us and watching intently.
Vervets are small monkeys, ranging from 16 inches to 20 inches, with the males being larger than females. They band together in groups up to fifty or sixty.
|Yes, this is a male.|
Research has shown that vervets have distinct alarm calls for warning or predators.
From Wikipedia: Vervet monkeys have four confirmed predators: leopards, eagles, pythons, and baboons. The sighting of each predator elicits an acoustically distinct alarm call. As infants vervets learn to make the variety of calls from observation alone, without explicit tutelage. In experimentation with unreliable signalers, individuals became habituated to incorrect calls from a specific individual. Though the response was lessened for a specific predator, if an unreliable individual gives an alarm call for a different predator, group members respond as if the alarm caller is, in fact, reliable. This suggests vervet monkeys are able to recognize and to respond to not only the individual calling, but also to the semantics of what the individual is communicating. It is believed that vervet monkeys have up to 30 different alarm calls. In the wild vervet monkeys have been seen giving a different call when seeing a human being approaching, leading researchers to believe that vervet monkeys may have a way of distinguishing between different land and flight predators.
We had fun photographing the monkeys for a while and then, suddenly, things changed.
Some vervets began coming down from the trees and moving closer to us while others remained in the trees, maybe trying to distract our attention. The vervets have decided our break time is over and we should leave and let them scrounge for snacks.
One climbed into our vehicle and searched the seatback pocket. It found an empty chip bag. It was empty and the vervet dropped it.
|See how distracted Mary and Marg are?|
Others tried to get into the cooler box where our snacks were kept.
Another was on the roof of our vehicle. I didn’t see it until I turned to go back and get something from the Land Rover. By that time, I was about five feet from it. It hissed at me and I backed off.
We left shortly after that.
|A centipede on a long journey,|
|Giraffe and friends|