Lioness Fosters Baby Baboon

There are some incredible things happening at any given moment around the world that we will never know about. This extraordinary sequence of events in Botswana being a perfect example…

Photographer Evan Schiller and Lisa Holzwarth were on a game drive in the northern Botswana‘s Selinda area when they came across a big troop of baboons charging through the bush.

“30-40 baboons were heading in our general direction making a lot of noise,” Lisa recalls.

The baboons were obviously frightened by something and they all scampered up trees, shouting, alarming, and making a big scene. It quickly became clear what the problem was: two large lionesses came out of the tall grass and rushed the baboons into the trees, soon joined by two more lionesses.

“Between the baboons shrieking and the lionesses communicating with deep guttural roars, it was a mad scene,” Lisa says.

Then the real chaos began! One brave baboon descended the dead tree and tried to make a run for it but got snapped up in the jaws of a lioness.

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The lioness grabbed a female baboon on the run. But there was something else there. As the baboon lay dying in the jaws of the lioness, a little baby (less than a month old) slowly disengaged from its mother’s body (photograph by Evan Schiller).

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Instinct took over and the baby tried to make a go for a tree, but did not have the strength to climb. At this point the lioness noticed the “little guy” and went over to investigate.

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Instead of snapping the baby up in a deadly movement, she started to play with the baboon.

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The lioness was inquisitive and gentle at the same time.

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After a while she picked up the baboon softly in her mouth and walked away, then settled down with the baby between her paws.

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In a strange behavioural twist, the baboon started to try and suckle the lioness.

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The lioness got distracted-this time by two male lions who arrived on the scene. Their advances, however, were met with aggression by the lioness. Was she defending the baby baboon? Or just uninterested in their mating advances?

Here’s where it gets interesting: waiting in a nearby tree is a big male baboon, who is obviously intent on saving the baby. The male lions were causing such a ruckus that it presented a short window of opportunity for the brave hero to descend the tree, grab the baby and head back to safety.

The father baboon had to make a move. Holding the baby, in all sorts of contorted positions, he tried numerous times to climb down the tree. He tested the lionesses’ interest with each descent.

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The heroic male baboon, having just saved the baby from the lions, cradled him in his arms.

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“I was touched by how gently the father baboon held this little baby who was in tough shape after its ordeal” – said Lisa after witnessing the incredible sequence of events unfold. Isn’t nature just amazing?

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