Security walked by. “I chased away the baboons over there,” I said to him. But at that moment he wasn’t interested in baboons that I had chased away from the nearby tents. “Something just happened to me…” he started. He needed someone to talk. “As I walked past the back of the ablution block, a snake fell out of the tree, right next to me.”„Als ich hinten an dem Toilettenhäuschen vorbei ging, fiel eine Schlange aus dem Baum, direkt neben mich.“ Black people are often terrified of snakes. He was terrified. I asked what the snake had looked like. Very long and thin, black, with light stripes. “Maybe a black mamba?” he asked himself. Mambas are among the most dangerous snakes of all, and it would be irresponsible to have such snakes in the camp. But the stripes spoke against it. I asked him, “Were the stripes lengthwise or crosswise?” ”Lengthwise.” Then it was probably a whip snake, a beneficial animal (like all snakes) and harmless to humans. It calmed him down a little bit. I fetched our two snake books, and we studied the pictures. The black mamba is not striped. Yeah, it could have been the whipsnake. “But you do get scared when you meet a snake,” I said to him. He promised that he would make sure that the snake would not scare any unsuspecting tourists. From now on we took a closer look at the corners of our ablution block. Life on the campsite was quite uncomplicated. We had a radio and bought a newspaper from the city, but the world out there was somehow far away. Our conversations revolved more around babies of baboons or about babies or wildebeests romping around the area, or about the lilac-breasted roller that sat in the same bush across the open space every morning. Sometimes we had the feeling that the animals weren’t real at all, but machines like in American amusement parks; machines in which someone put a dollar into them and then you could see a wildebeest under the tree on the right, or the lilac-breasted roller flew from the tree opposite to the bush at the swimming pool and back again. The tree on the other side of the area was the baby baboon’s favourite climbing frame. Anita watched the young ones playing with each other. Wutsch! One was gone, and when the other two were searching for it, it jumped from one big, overhanging branch onto the other two. The area in front of our campsite was like a stage the size of a football field. Three river beds converged here. The campground was slightly elevated and separated from the area by a stone wall. Every few meters, steps went down, which were mainly used by the horses. So when we sat under the tent’s veranda, we had box seats for the stage. To our left was the swimming pool, to the right were the offices of the game park and on the opposite side a small hill. At the foot of the hill were two sizeable sweet thorn acacias, the climbing frame of the baboon children. And in between all this the big plain. In the morning the wildebeests romped around there, during the day the horses grazed there, in the evening warthogs cavorted on the other side and again and again the baboons used the area as a playground. Sometimes the stage was also a fighting arena. One day we heard a lot of noise from the swimming pool. Baboons barked, persons screamed. Martin, my nephew, who was visiting at the swimming pool with his two brothers, later told me that a big baboon male had stolen the picnic from a careless visitor. The baboon was scared away and ran off with a large plastic bag full of sandwiches, chips and fruit. A female baboon with a baby also wanted to take some of the spoils. This challenge took place on stage in front of us and was breathlessly followed by all campers and pool visitors. A fierce fight arose between the male and the baboon mother. The baby baboon, who had been clinging to its mother until then, fell to the ground, then sat in the middle of the stage and watched the wrestling, biting and screaming of the two fighting adult animals a bit stunned. The baboon male used a brutal tactic to teach the mother who the boss of the troop was: he separated her from her child. At first he sat down between mother and child and whenever she wanted to get past him to the child – meanwhile, the mother’s instinct was much stronger than the greed for food – he drove her away with physical force. And every time the baby wanted to crawl back to its mother, he would hurl it back the other way. Martin, Eduard and Michael watched the action from the swimming pool. On one occasion Martin took a few steps towards the scene with a stick. Our hearts almost stopped beating, because a mature baboon male in a bad mood can kill a human being. And this male was in a nasty mood. Immediately he ran towards Martin, who luckily recognised the danger and ran back to the other people. Unfortunately, this distraction was not long enough to reunite mother and child. The male ran back like lightning and placed himself again between the female and her baby. A waiting game began. The rest of the herd of baboons sat on the hill across the plain and observed what was happening, as we did. They didn’t make a sound. Another female with a child came down on the plain and sat down, a little further away, behind the mother. It was as if she wanted to give her support. The pool guests stood to the left and watched, we, farthest away, watched the events through binoculars. There was silence for a few minutes. I don’t know what caused the following; I suspect it was a movement from the pool. Anyway, the male felt threatened from that direction. He grabbed the baby and ran to the big tree at the base of the hill opposite. The mother ran after him, and another wild fight arose under the tree. Through the whirled up dust we could see the baby’s body whirling through the air and lying lifeless behind a small bush. “Did he have the baby in his arms or his jaw?” asked my mother, who was sitting with us. “It looked like the jaw,” I replied. “Yes, it looked that way.” Since we all had already seen a baboon’s skull and were aware of the sharp teeth of the animals, we had to fear the worst: the baby was dead. The male chased the female away. And again a phase of waiting came: The male under the tree, the rest of the pack on the hill or further apart on the plain, on the left the people at the swimming pool and us with our binoculars at the campsite. We did not see the female baboon anymore. There have been several testimonies and interpretations of what now happened. We at the campsite could not see what was happening, because the baby’s body was, from our point of view, behind a bush. But the following statements came from the pool observers: The male went to the baby. Some thought they saw him trying to raise the body and make it move, just as a child “runs” a doll by holding it and moving its legs. Others observed the male eating the baby. In the end, I did not try to question the various statements and find out what had happened, because everyone was very shocked. After about half an hour the baboon male got up and left the scene. The other baboons followed after a while. They were probably also in shock because they were moving very slowly and silently. We did not see them for several days. No one came to inspect the trash cans for food. The whole troop had moved into the hills. When we checked the next day to see if we could find the baby’s body, it was gone. Probably jackals had taken it that night.