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National Geographic Television




On 18 January 2006, the USA’s National                            After the child’s death, three members of the Klerksdorp
Geographic Television team came to South Africa                   Public Order Police as well as Nature Conservation Officials
to visit the Kgomotso Area as well as the Cape to                 were deployed in the area to deal with the situation.
shoot a film based on the behaviours of the
Chacma Baboon. They also wanted to investigate                    They went on a mission to find Rotwe. Spotting him was easy
this specific species’ unique position in South                   as he was clearly very old, had a distinctive blue-grey colour,
Africa’s landscape and the stories about human                    and one of his incisors were missing. The community assist-
and baboon encounters.                                            ed police officials in tracking a troop of baboons with which
                                                                  Rotwe was moving. In an attempt to capture him, Nature
In 2003, a three month old baby, Neo Tukane, was killed by a      Conservation Officials put out cages, but these attempts
large male baboon in the Madipelesa Village in the Kgomotso       failed. Shortly after Neo’s death, Rotwe struck again and
area. The old male baboon was known to the community              killed a baby goat in the same area where he had snatched
members as ‘Rotwe’ meaning outcast or rejected in                 Neo. He was eventually spotted by police officials, aided by
Setswana, as he was always lagging behind the troop.              community members at lookout points where the troop of
                                                                  baboons usually fed and watered. Rotwe was shot in the
Rotwe took Neo out of the hut where his mother had laid him       chest and died instantly. His behaviour proved troublesome
down to sleep. When Neo’s mother saw Rotwe with Neo               and could not be tolerated, and to shoot him after many failed
clutched tightly against his chest, panic ensued. During the      attempts to capture him, was the only way out. His carcass
attempt to recover Neo from Rotwe, according to the               was positively identified by everyone, including Neo’s family.
Primatologist from National Geographic Television, Rotwe felt
threatened and, as he would do with a baby baboon under         The National Geographic Team came to film the re-enactment
the same circumstances, he fatally bit Neo on the head.         of these events. Supt Louis Jacobs, Mooi River Area Head,
                                                                Communication and Liaison Services assisted the team and
 In the film, the Primatologist says that male baboons and      even got a part to play! He spent time with the crew in large
 dominant female baboons are known to kidnap the babies of      tent-like gazebos, filming day in and day out. He said, the
 less dominant females, whether to compensate for the loss of   equipment was magnificent as some of the cameras were
 her own baby or to ward off an attack from another male        remote controlled from various points and others were lifted
 baboon. Baboons are also known to kill other baby animals      high into the air by crane-like machines. Supt Jacobs said
                                                  zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
 such as bucks and birds for food. He also says that each       that it was an enjoyable experience and to have worked with
 troop has its own hierarchy and that female baboons are gen-   such professionals was truly amazing.
 erally accepted as being inferior. Another interesting fact is
 that a baboon is capable of determining the sex of a human.    The film is still in the finalizing stages and must be approved
Article by Karen Tredoux, Mooi River                            by the SAPS before being screened. It will be broadcast in
Communication Services                                          the USA and over the satellite channel. The date is not yet
Photographs supplied by National Geographic Television          known.
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posted:8/7/2010
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