Thick Tailed Bushbaby
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Did You Know...?
Vervet monkeys and Chacma baboons play a crucial role in South Africa's ecosystem as primary pollinators. South Africa is home to the largest diversity of grass species in the world.
Many large animals, such as elephants and white rhino, as well as other herding and game species cannot survive without these grasses, and these grasses depend on baboons and monkeys for their seed distribution.
It Takes a Village
Vervet monkeys form very tight bonds. When a new infant is born into a troop, the mother, as well as other family members, will take part in eating the after-birth to forever carry the scent of the new baby.
Caring for young primates is a heavy burden, and Vervet mothers do not have to go at it alone. Nursing mothers will nurse infants other than their own, and non-nursing females will assist by carrying babies while they are not nursing.
Food or Foe?
These arachnids are feared amongst humans, and known to inflict a nasty sting. Definitely a creature to be avoided. But to Vervet monkeys and baboons these creepy-crawlies are a coveted delicacy.
Baboons and Vervets are adapted to eat scorpions, and do not succomb to the painful sting as easily as humans. If they happen to catch one, they will pull off the stinger and stuff the scorpion, whole, into their mouths, which also keeps anyone from stealing the yummy treat.
As Bushbaby ancestors evolved, they could no longer compete for resources with larger and faster South African primates like the baboon and Vervet monkey, so Bushbabies evolved to adapt to nocturnal life, where there was far less competition. These small primates have excellent hearing and night vision which allow them to hunt for insects in the dark.
The name "Bushbaby" is thought to have come about due to its piercing cry that resembles that of a human baby.
Picky Eaters or Clever Buggers?
When baboons and Vervets eat fruits, they often peel their food, actually consuming only a small portion of each piece of food, giving the impression that they are wasteful or picky.
Once a group of monkeys finishes eating in a particular area, they will leave behind peels and disgarded pieces to rot. After a few days the monkeys can return to fruit that is no longer suitable to eat, but has been taken over by tasty and protein-rich insects.