Business comes to a standstill as baboons stage fierce fight in Victoria Falls

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BUSINESS came to a halt in Victoria Falls central business district Friday morning when a troop of baboons fought fierce running battles.

For about 30 minutes, two males slapped, punched and pulled each other amid loud screeching which drew the attention of scores of people from offices.

There was chaos as other troop members ran around making ear splitting shrieks.

More than a dozen people who were queueing for cash at an Econet shop scurried for cover as one of the males, who seemed to be the leader of the troop, jumped from the rooftop and landed on a car in an attempt to attack his opponent.

The younger male at some point ran into a curio shop and hid for some seconds as the bigger male, who was limping, charged.

People briefly abandoned their shops and business to witness the fight, which stopped when one of the males climped onto the roof of a shop.

Wildlife experts said the fight could have been for dominance of the troop.

Mr Roger Parry, from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, said baboons usually have internal power wrangles.

“There are usually two or three dominant males that normally want to show a level of authority and from time to time the younger ones would want to challenge the older males. In some instances there are also some roving males that move from one troop to the other and try to gain authority but in most cases there could be internal fights,” he said.

Mr Parry said usually fights start when younger males identify a weakness in the older ones, like injury or sickness which could be an opportunity for them to win dominance.

He said, however, through time, the defeated ones would give in and respect the leaders and continue as a family.

Another wildlife expert, Mr Mike La Grange, said females usually join in the fight if outsiders invade a troop which has a single or few males.

“This could be in two parts. It could be a young male trying to assume power or a male stranger that was trying to join the group. Usually when younger males grow up they form loose associations with their mates and start a troop or when they are few they try and dominate,” said Mr La Grange.

He said baboons sometimes try and establish friendships the way humans do. “Normally the troop will rally behind its leader against the stranger. A troop can have one or several males and until such a time when females accept the situation, there will always be squabbles.

“If the females joined in, it could be that a stranger overstepped in trying to join or take over the troop which already has a male. If there is one male, he will have the support of the whole troop as opposed to when there is a coalition of males who can fight on their own. The other reason could be territorial especially in Victoria Falls where there is a lot of food hence many fights,” added Mr La Grange.

– Chronicle


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