“We do give them a boost to their natural wild diet, especially during the height of the dry season which begins in September and lasts through to the rains in December,” the Trust’s Founder Karen Paolillo explains. “We supply them with oranges and grapefruits from a neighbor’s agricultural lands. This is especially beneficial to any baboon who is sick or malnourished as that extra boost of vitamin C can only help them.”
No Candy…But Something Better on the Menu
And while Halloween candy isn’t on the menu here, something much more valuable awaits the visiting baboons.
“We buy horse cubes, a protein based feed which we first came across when we gave it as a supplement to the hay fed to the Turgwe Hippos during a horrendous drought,” Karen said. “Each baboon gets a few handfuls of cubes on a daily basis.”
“They roost in trees above Hippo Haven, and as regularly as clockwork they arrive for their food early morning and evening,” Karen tenderly explains. “During dry season, they often stay around Hippo Haven knowing that they may get a bit of extra food if they cannot find any in the natural bush around our home.”
The Baboons Need Protection
“But the threats to baboons are many,” Karen continues. “In our area, sport hunters will shoot baboons for fun. Others use them for bait to kill predators. And illegal settlers will also attack baboons if they approach their lands. A lot of white farmers and ranchers will even poison baboons as they do not like having large baboon troops on their lands.”
A Selfless Devotion to Wildlife
The Turgwe Hippo Trust is caught in the middle and they’d have it no other way. Yet their selfless devotion to the wildlife here comes at a price. In truth, the animals eat better than the people who have hunkered down to protect them. This tiny charity is in a constant struggle to come up with funding to buy meager meals, to repair an ever-troubled generator and to buy fuel for their vehicle. But through bouts of malaria and violent attacks by poachers, they vow to remain in the bush to protect the wildlife who need them.
“The baboons know that Hippo Haven is a safe retreat and they always head for us if any sign of danger is in the bush.” Karen says. “We’re here for them.”
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