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Learning The Ropes

Learning The Ropes
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-05
Categories: Mammals, Humorous, Bushveld
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/160 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2007
Theme(s): AnYtHiNg ExTrEmElY hUmOrOuS, Monkeys, Acrobat animals, 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa II, Baby Animals 6, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, Kruger National Park 1, So Funny, I had to laugh., Family Matters 1, Peace and Love [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-11-11 1:48
Viewed: 12617
Favorites: 4 [view]
Points: 74
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Chacma baboon - Papio ursinus

Yes, I am back and hello to all my friends (known and those I must still meet). No, I did not get lost somewhere between the Kruger Park and home, but arriving home I made the dreadful discovery that my monitor has once again blacked out on me. So much for the guarantee repairs just 2 months prior. This time I was not prepared to use the scratched monitor I borrowed last time so I was stuck in a void and had to wait 2 weeks before I got my monitor back (and still it does not seem to be 100%). Just imagine my frustration at not being able to download my photos on to my PC after I got back from Kruger, not being able to visit TrekNature, and unable to respond to the many e-mails I've received. Enough of the sulky stuff.

The Kruger Park was great, but less generous and giving towards us this year when compared to our fabulous visit last year. It was probably due to the numerous rain drenched days we've encountered this time around. Not that I'm complaining, because the Park really needed the precipitation and it was wonderful to see how it responded to the life giving showers. However, a bad day in the Kruger still beats any good day in the office, for sure.

What was truly magnificent though was the large numbers of baby animals we've seen this year. It was prevalent across the spectrum of species; from the oh-so comical baby elephants, the clumsy rhino sucklings, ever so charming newborn giraffes, fragile nyala young, playful hyena pups, the cutest monkey & baboon infants, huge herds of protective buffalo with loads of calves, endearing blacksmith plovers, the cutest ostrich chicks, minute read-bound black crakes, and so the list goes on and on. Because nature normally knows much better than us humans, all indications seem to point to a prosperous and prolific season.

On our 1st day in the park I've captured this "mother & child" along the S28 Nhlowa road near Crocodile Bridge. You might notice that it was already 13h23 in the afternoon, but it was my first opportunity to photograph any animal due to the very dark and heavy overcast conditions. That's the reason why I used the Sony instead of my 350D. I had no hope to catch any decent shot with the long 500mm lens as a result of the rain and bad light.

Baboon tales

Baby baboons are among the most helpless of newborn mammals – exceeded perhaps only by humans. At birth one weighs only a few hundred grams. At first the mother's clutches it in her arms and after a couple of days the baby holds on tightly round her tummy. After 5-6 weeks, the small creature is strong enough to ride on her back, holding on for dear life. As it gets bigger, the baby rides sitting up until it is ready to climb off and play with the other youngsters.

Found in the countries of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

They inhabit a wide array of habitats; woodland, steppe, and savanna, In Southern Africa they're found from the grassy alpine slopes of the Drakensberg to the semi-deserts of the Kalahari and all the way down south to the Cape Peninsula (therefore they are also know as Cape Baboons). Availability of water usually limits to where they live.

They spend most of their time on the ground. The only time they go into trees is to escape predators, get food, or spend the night. They might also spend the night on tall rocky outcroppings.

They're omnivorous with a preference for fruits, while also eating insects, seeds, flowers, shoots, buds, roots, grasses, bark, twigs, sap, tubers, bulbs, mushrooms, lichens, aquatic plants, invertebrates and smaller vertebrate animals, such as gazelles. Generally they are scavengers when it comes to game meat and rarely engages in hunting large animals. Chacma Baboons normally do not approach humans and/or have much interest in them. However, this has been changing due to the number of tourists who feed the baboons, thereby teaching them that humans are a source of food.

Social Behaviour
Troops have a multi-male & multi-female social system. This species has a promiscuous mating system. There is much aggression between males because of competition for females. Associations between males and females are important because when a male first tries to join a group he might have a difficult time, so an association with a female could help him. Male partners aid in the rearing of the infants in terms of caring and grooming, and will come to the defence of their female when attacked by members of another troop. Male consorts will even become foster parents when the mother dies. Chacma baboons when threatened by predators such as leopards will mob them and sometimes the leopards are severely injured.

Vocal Communication
- Two-phase bark: A deep, loud call which is repeated at 2-5 second intervals. It sounds like "wahoo" and is emitted by adult males when a predator is near especially a feline one. This call is also heard when there is inter or intra group aggression between males.
- Grunting: It sometimes resembles a two-phase "uh-huh" and generally is soft in nature. The call is emitted by an adult male, and it's a threat call that can occur before a two-phase bark.
- Screeching: It consists of high pitched screams which are repeated and may turn to a chirring noise when the individual becomes caught. The call is emitted by all age classes and both sexes and is given as a response to aggression especially by a dominant individual, and serves to inhibit aggression.
- Yakking: It is short in duration and sounds like a sharp "yak". Fear grimace often accompanies this call. The call is emitted by sub-adult and adult males and females, and is given by an individual who is withdrawing from a threatening animal.
- Clicking: It is chirp-like in nature and is emitted by infants and juveniles of both sexes. This is the equivalent of yakking.
- Ick-ooer: It is a two-phased call with the "ick" coming before the "coo" sound, and given with the lips pursed. The call is emitted by infants of both sexes, and is given as an expression of a low-level of fear or distress.
- Shrill bark: It is a sound which is single, sharp, and explosive in nature. The call is emitted by all chacma baboons except adult males, and functions as an alarm signal especially to a sudden disturbance. Other members of the troop will flee upon hearing this call.
- Rhythmic grunts: It is low and soft and is given by all chacma baboons except infants. The call is given when one individual is approaching another and signals friendly intentions.
- Doglike bark: It is high-pitched and has more quaver and is less staccato than a shrill bark. The call is emitted by sub-adult and adult males and females, and is given when individual or subgroups are separated from the troop.
- Chattering: It is nasal in nature and consists of rapid grunt-like sounds. The call is emitted by juveniles, and is heard during play.
- Muffled growl: The mouth is closed and the cheeks puff in and out during this call. The call is emitted by oestrus females and occurs during copulation.

Visual Communication
- Tension yawning: It is done by an adult male. The mouth is opened fully to reveal the canines and it is done when a rival group or a predator is approaching.
- Staring: This is used as a threat display. The eyes are fixed on the stimulus and the eyebrows are raised and the scalp is retracted, the facial skin is also stretched by moving the ears back. Underneath the eye lids the colour is different which contrasts sharply with the surrounding facial colour.
- Canine display: It is performed by adult males, and is a variation upon tension yawning. It serves as a threat display and is given by a lower-ranking male against a higher-ranking one when the higher-ranking individual is with an oestrus female or is eating meat. Often eyebrow-raising occurs with this display.
- Eyebrow-raising: It is done by raising the eyebrows and this function as an aggressive gesture.
- Penile display: It is performed by an adult male, and he will sit with his erect penis in full view. This display is performed while the male is guarding and communicates to other males that an adult male is present in the troop.
- Fear grimace: The lips are retracted so that the teeth are shown; the teeth are clenched together. This display functions as an appeasement signal to reduce aggression in aggressive encounters.
- Tooth-grinding: The mouth is closed and the teeth are grinded together. This is heard when two males are threatening each other at a close distance.
- Rapid-glancing: A threatened chacma baboon will turn its head away and look in the opposite direction. This serves to decrease the tension in the situation.
- Lip smacking: This is when the lips are protruded, then smacked together repeatedly. It is a reassuring display.
- Social presenting: It is done by females and juvenile males towards higher ranking males. This is a submissive display. It is also done by a female to another female with a black infant, and she will lip-smack while doing this.

Tactile Communication
- Social grooming: This is when one individual removes parasites and dead skin with their hands from another individual. In this species it generally only occurs between same sex individuals. It is used to reinforce the social bonds.
- Nose-to-nose greeting: When two individuals meet each other they touch noses as a friendly sign.
- Social mounting: This is generally a response to social presenting and serves to signal a friendly reassurance, but sometimes it is also seen during aggressive encounters. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Janice, ellis49, thor68, darwin, peter_stoeckl, Kathleen, Silke, vanderschelden, Alex99, Aaltjie, snowfalken, rcrick, marhowie, uleko, manyee, Debz, earthtraveler, Dyker, anel, jmp, Rehanna, saguzar, Miss_Piggy, henrique, betsie, Mick_M has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To thor68: More of KNP soonloot 1 11-13 09:51
To Janice: AB's vs baboonsloot 1 11-12 20:09
To ellis49: KNP adventuresloot 1 11-12 19:55
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Loot,
welcome back from your adventure in KNP, it's great to see you again, my friend.
This is a great family picture with a nice moment of learning.
Well composed with good pose and POV, the details and exposure are spot on. And I like the simple colour tones.
Very well done.

Kia ora my friend - I hear that South Africa won the Rugby World Cup!!
I am pleased a Southern Hemisphere team won - and once the ABs went out with a BANG, we did start to barrack for SA. And actually, reading those 'visual communications' I get the feeling that the AB's HAKA is a bit like behaving like these baboons.
But, I love the interaction here of Mama holding onto the vine to steady it while Babe climbs it.
It's a super image Loot, and Welcome Back!

hi loot, nice to see you back again! :-) i hope all is well.
terrific family-shot of mom and baby baboon, amazing to see that
she is holding the branch for the little one to climb on.
so, this is not just a technically perfect shot, but even very
interesting and educational. well done & hope to see more of KNP, thor.

Hi Loot,
that's soooo cute, I'm so happy to see shots like this in free nature which we are only able to see in a zoo. But I think the behavior there is different. This scene is so lovely, to see how the baby is trainig and the mother takes care, thanks and greetings
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Hi Loot
Wonderful moment you captured
Excellent presentation and detail
tfs jon

Hi Loot.
Welcome back and wow, what a shot. Great composition with stunning sharpness, exposure, colour and detail.
350D or not, a wonderful shot. The Sony did well.


  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-11-11 3:53]

So our favourite writer-photographer is finally back! Welcome home, Loot!
Superb posting with the perfect title here. I love the obvious attention being given to the infant by its mother -- perfectly captured by you.

Hi Loot,
catching the very right moment of an interaction between those quick and alert baboons in such a precisely detailed, impressingly clear, well composed high quality result like here is really something special that needs a master of animal observation and perfect command of the camera. Great work, Loot.
That charming image is leading into very well written notes that are combining highly condensed well researched facts with a good deal of entertainment. I love the paragraph on our close cousin the baboon's behaviour.
A joyful pleasure to see that you have mastered some of your computer problems and have managed to be back to TN.
Thank you! My best regards,

Hello Loot,
How are you?
I was on my way from Berg en Dal to Skukuza that day. And yes, my Berg and Dal night, was a THUNDER night....wow!
Good image; funny guys these little baboons. They are always busy and hardly sit still and look up for a portrait:-). They are busy discovering their new world, trying out the little branches and so...
Very visible in your image.
Well done
and TFS

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-11-11 6:16]

Loot! Welcome back!
A superb shot from Kruger Parl.
+++ The affection between the two baboons and the concentration from the little one is brought across so well in this shot.
I love the pose of the little monkey on the vine. They are suprisingly good at climbing from such a young age.
Superb sharpness throughout and a shower of detail.
Nice colours.
--- Nothing at all :)
Well done my friend.

Best Regards,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-11-11 8:34]

Hi loot.
It is pleased to me to see you here again and watch your nice picture.
You have pictured a lovely scene on first day visit to the park. And I am impresses with quality of the shot. Amazing coours, DOF and sharpness, perfect impressive composition and, as usual< fantastic note. My best wishes and TFS.

A superb photo of baboon play-making. Composition and focus are excellent.

Dear Loot
Welcome back! I really longed for your contributions to the site, and I am sure many other members missed you as well. WOW what a brilliant photo use for your comeback. I just love this pick and so does Maryke and the rest of the family.
This little baboon which I am sure is just a few week old, is really very adorable. It has got a face like the baboons that starred in the movie “The Planet of the Apes”. The detail of the little one is very clear. The eyes, the ears, the baby fluff, and just look at the strong leg muscle’s even at his/her young age. It is a very interesting photo with a lesson of life. Don’t we all look up to our mamma at some stage in our life’s to also learn us the ropes. You deserve a round of applause.
You surely were very lucky with this one, and I am sure you and Anna enjoyed the scene while it lasted. Thanks for sharing, it is much appreciated. Thanks also for the very interesting, detailed and tutoring note. Once again you did not fail me in part of my daily education.
Warmest regards

Hi Loot
Uiteindelik!! Ek kon nie wag om van jou "wildlife" te sien nie. Hierdie een is ongelooflik en wil my laat huil - dit is so perfek. Fantasties hoe afhanklik selfs die uitdrukking op hierdie baba se gesig weerspieel word in hierdie foto. Dis nie elke dag se foto hierdie!! Baie goeie notas ook - ek leer baie deur dit te lees.

Hello Loot,

Welcome back my friend! It's great to see new pictures from you again! I'm sorry to hear about your monitor issue but I have the feeling that the pictures you will post are well worth the waiting. A visit to Kruger National Park must be very exciting especially for a nature lover and photographer as you are.
Here's my critique:


The image was nicely composed by following the rule of thirds and using one of the most powerful spots to focus the action into. I love the way you used different guidelines (including the direction the baboons are looking into) to lead the eyes toward this spot. The presence of the baboon in front of the tree trunk is a key element of the composition as the darker tree trunk would otherwise have divided the picture into two halves. Having the eyes of the baby baboon visible in the picture is also a must.

Colors and contrast:

The colors look natural and saturation was well adjusted. They make a great contrast in spite of the rainy conditions. The chosen white balance creates warm color tones.


You adjusted the camera perfectly (including the flash unit) to match the given light conditions. It was only after I had looked at the camera settings when I realized how close you came to the subjects. At the beginning I thought you took the shot from quite a distance.


The accurate focus rendered sharp details especially in the fur of the large baboon. DOF was also well controlled to blur the background!

A great picture to open the new "series" from Kruger. I'm looking forward to see more pictures from you! Thank you!

With Friendly Regards,

Hi Loot, What a magic shot just excellent, the detail is superb, the look and the determination in this little fellow’s eye as he ascends into the unknown just beautiful, well seen and well captured, all the best Rick (thanks Aaltjie)

Hi Loot
At first thankyou very very much for this longa and explaining note about babuns. Secondly you have very nice pose of baby and adult. It doesn't any word to critize. Just perfect. Bravo!


Hi Loot,
What a gem! The perfect title for the perfect moment captured..The interaction seen is priceless mf.
Excellent work.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-11-12 6:45]

Hello Loot,
Nice to see you back! It must have been fascinating to see all the babies and youngsters in the park! This one is lovely with Mum showing her little one how to climb, keeping a watchful eye on him. Excellent sharpness and fine natural colours in this very fine composition.
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

Hello Loot,

You are back my friend, at last. I think you are disappeared from TN. But no, there he is.Nice to see you again. a great family picture with a nice moment of learning. A real family composition. Good POV, BG and DOF. Nice details and exposure. I'm looking forward to see more pictures from you. Take a look at my archive. I posted a beautiful cauliflower mushroom no. II on TN. And what a perect notes. Chapeau my friend. Regards and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-11-12 20:41]

Welcome back, Loot.
Your friends here have missed you terribly.
What a great moment you have captured.
(By the way, very clever title as well!)
I am impressed with the "human" quality of this parent-child interaction, with the adult so thoughtfully holding on to the vine to steady it. You have brilliantly captured the intensity of the youngster's effort, with his back erect and his eyes totally focused .
Light, focus, exposure, and composition are all perfect.
We cannot wait to see more of your pictures and hear about your adventures.
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-11-13 1:50]

Hi Loot, welcome back. I have been enjoying your pics and tales whilst you were away. This is a cracking shot, it has a lot to say about a mother investing in the rearing of her young. A lovely pov and every element is crisp and sharp with good light. Another wonderful compostion. Look forward to more.

Fantastic shot of this little one "learning the ropes" with the help of mom.
Incredible POV, focus details, and lovely composition.
Colors are extra fine also
Well done!
Richard... see you later

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2007-11-14 7:25]

Hello Loot
Welcome back after your extended absence. I love to see one of your photographs on the site again and reading the lengthy / very interesting notes. Once again you did an exemplary job in providing thoughtful background information on your trip and very relevant / topical data on your subject. The photo is worthy of every smiley as you successfully applied the guidelines for composition and the other technical aspects of focus, colour, background, etc.
Good work and greetings.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-11-15 5:01]

Hi Loot,
Really impressive your baboon picture. You caught such a magnificent moment, where mother and baby are in full concentration. I like the way the little baboon is looking up to measure the effort to make. Excellent composition, perfect sharpness, interesting pose of mother baboon leading our eye to junior. Well seen and photographed

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-11-15 20:18]

Hello Loot

Superbly done.
A wonderful capture that is aptly titled.The timing is magnificent.
The shot is sharply focused with excellent details,the texture of the fur is terrific.
Very good POV,and DOF.
The cute factor is very high here.


  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-11-17 0:21]

Hi Loot,
A really appropriate scene to illustrate the helpless nature of this baby and the mother care. Outstanding pov, composition and moment. One would think that the animals are actors following instruction from a demanding director!
TFS and best regards, José M.

  • Great 
  • badar Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 0 N: 160] (785)
  • [2007-11-24 20:46]

Hi Loot,
I like this image specially for its portrayal of social behaviour.

WOW! excellent action shot. Perfect timing. Brilliant POV and composition.
Good choice of F and speed. A tiny lost of sharpness, but best choice in such dark conditions. And the outcome is outstanding.

Hello Loot

Hierdie is 'n uitmuntende foto wat direk met enige moeder hart praat en 'n pragtige storie vertel. Ek het jou notas ontsettend geniet en veral die interessante inligting oor die verskillende wyses van kommunikasie. Ek kan selfs somige van die visueele vertone herlei na my honde se gedrag. Die foto is puik. Baie dankie.


  • Great 
  • valy67 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1727 W: 59 N: 3060] (9219)
  • [2007-12-26 13:35]

Hello Loot !
You have captured a lovely moment with this picture ! The little baboon is so cute, and he looks so serious about climbing. Details, colors, composition, POV, everything is excellent, as usual from you. It must have been great to watch them. And the note is very complete and very instructive. Very well done !

Hi Loot,
Sorry for the delay in critiuque some of your magnific pics. I congratulate you for the Rugby World Cup, we almost touch the glory :(, wining to France and other big teams.
This one is very funny, you´ve captured the moment perfectly, faces tells all.
My best wishes for you and your family in 2008

Hallo Loot

Thanks for being the first to welcome me to the Trek Nature community. I am sure I’ll enjoy every moment and that my knowledge about nature and everything involved will grow daily.
I thought I’ll start by given my critique to this special posting “Learning the ropes”. I am sure you will be learning me the ropes of everything involved with photography when and where necessary, since I have also now joined the “club”.
I just love the look on this little baboons face. The eyes look bright and wide awake. One can see it is full of energy. I am sure it asked his mom: “Can I just show you one more time that I can climb the rope mommy?” This photo has a high cuteness factor, just like all your other postings in the series on babies.

Thanks for sharing the photo, as well as the interesting and enjoyable note.

Kind regards

Ah Loot, It's always a pleasure to go through your good gallery,
I came out on this one, oh so sweet and what a good capture, realy a piece of quality, very good photojob.
Best wishes Loot for you and your family.
gr. jaap

Olá Loot tudo bem ?

Que imagem maravilhosa que você nos oferece !
Parabéns pelo momento eternizado.
Muito me fascina estes primatas.

Novamente parabéns.

Henrique - Brasil

  • Great 
  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2008-05-22 22:59]

Hello Loot,
Such an aptly titled shot.THis is so much on the real side of life, learning to live and teaching to survive....the details on the baby is so well defined despite poor ,ight conditions.I like the intense look on the little one's face as it keenly holds on to make the next move.

Superb capture...into my favourites
very well done.
TFS & Cheers

Hi Loot,
Excellent capture and story inside.
Excellent details.

Calibration Check