The rescue team say the baboon’s behaviour is more typical of a younger male. Image: Wikimedia

Baboon escapes from Gauteng reserve, meets tragic fate on highway

A baboon suspected to have gone missing from the Cradle of Humankind was hit and killed by a car on the N1.


The rescue team say the baboon’s behaviour is more typical of a younger male. Image: Wikimedia

Local residents were on high alert after spotting a 14-year-old baboon believed to have escaped from the Cradle of Humankind northwest of Johannesburg.

Tragically, the male baboon was struck by a car on the highway between Fourways and Rivonia while searching for new territory.

Brendan Murray from the Owl Rescue Centre said they had been closely tracking the baboon’s movements.

The baboon was first seen in Bantu, near the Cradle of Humankind, before travelling through Lanseria. From here, he crossed into Manandi, moving on to Sadlebrook, then Beaulieu, Kyalami, and finally reaching Paulshof.

“Usually, these male baboons don’t cross over a busy road, but then he did, and that’s when he was hit by a car,” Murray told the Fourways Review. “He settled on the highway for about 20 minutes, dazed, like he just had a concussion.”

“By the time we were on our way, he was off the highway, and it took us about three hours to locate him. He was in the Rietvallei Nature Reserve, and I traced him down and managed to catch him.”

Urgent medical attention

Murray took the baboon to the Bryanston Avian, Exotic, and Small Animal Clinic for immediate medical care.

“Sadly, the blunt force trauma of being hit by a car doing 120km/hr caused a lung contusion that bled out in his chest,” Murray added.

“Our vet, Dr Perushan, put in a valiant effort to try to resuscitate him, but the damage done was too severe.”

While the rescue team initially thought the baboon was a young male, a member of the Prime Crew examined the baboon’s teeth and concluded that he was “a middle-aged man.”

Murray said it was unclear why the baboon was trying to get into the city at such a pace.

“I can’t say we could have prevented this tragedy, but we’ll try to do better next time. Thanks to everyone who assisted.”

Male baboon behaviour

Male baboons moving from one troop to the next is said to be normal behaviour, but this is usually more typical of younger males – in what is called a displacing male.

They do this because they do not want to interbreed within the troop.

“That is why the male will have to leave and find another troop, but this is an older male, so it could be that he wanted to be a no-mate, which is also normal for them,” Murray concluded.

Last year, a baboon had to be euthanised in Cape Town after a shocking human encounter. Read more on that story here.