Baboons Steal Lion Cubs? Why?

Thieves may be lurking around you without you knowing. Animals also have some such thieves. A rare incident happened, baboons stole the lion’s cub and what happened next?

Lion cub thief

Baboons Steal Lion Cubs

A male baboon carrying and grooming a lion cub is a rare sight, yet it happened over the weekend in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The baboon took the cub up into a tree and preened it as if it were its own, said safari operator Kurt Schultz, who in 20 years had never seen such behavior.
This is the incredible and never-before-seen moment a male baboon stole a lion cub while it is alive and healthy.
Kurt Schultz, from Kurt Safari, captured this once in a lifetime sighting on Saturday the 1st of Feb 2020 while on his way back from a meeting in the Kruger National Park.
The baboons had gathered in an area with granite hills and boulders where lions and leopards have been known to hide their cubs while they go hunting, he said, and that’s likely how the baboons found the cub.

The story of the baboons stealing the lion cubs

A male baboon carries a lion cub in a tree in Kruger National Park on Feb. 1 The safari ranger who recorded the scene does not know what happened to the cub in the end.

Here is how he told the story:
“I had a meeting at Skukuza, one of the camps, for Kurt Safari on Saturday, so I was in the Kruger for the morning. Before the meeting, I decided to enter the park early to do some photography – a hobby and passion of mine.”
“I drove onto the S21, one of the roads near Skukuza where I came across a troop of baboons being restless. Being early morning this is relatively common, but then I noticed a baboon carrying something and the rest of the troop were interested in that baboon. The baboon was not visible and I spent some time at the sighting as I was told it was possibly a lion cub.”
“Knowing the area, I know there are cubs present in the area lately and being early morning, and close to a granite rock face, I suppose the baboon troop rested during the evening on the rocks. They probably during the early morning moved down to start their day foraging for food came across the hidden Lion cub.”

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, a male baboon preens a lion cub in a tree in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

“I first thought it was a female baboon but it was in actuality a young male baboon. The young baboon crossed the road and climbed up a marula tree. I waited for about 30 min before it came into view and was moving from tree to tree, the rest of the troop then moved away and the baboon was grooming and caring for the lion cub as if this was a young baboon.”
“I spent about 1 hour at the sighting and decided to leave as I had a meeting at 9 am. It is normal for a troop of baboons to kill young leopard and even lion, however after 20 years of guiding this is the first time I have seen a baboon nurturing and caring for a young predator cub.”

The end of the lion cub thief

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, a male baboon carries a lion cub in a tree in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Baboons “are really strong animals and when they were all excited and fighting over the baby in the beginning, it could have been injured internally,” Schultz said. It was a hot morning and the cub was also showing signs of dehydration, he said.
While the rest of the baboon troop settled down, the male “moved from branch to branch, grooming and carrying the cub for a long period of time,” Schultz said. “The cub seemed very exhausted.”
Schultz and others on safaris in the park watched the rare sight and took photographs.
“I don’t see a chance of this poor cub surviving. The troop of baboons was large and a lion would not be able to get the young back,” Schultz said. “Nature is cruel at most times and the survival of a young predator cub is not easy. The lion cub would pose a threat to the baboons when it gets older. I have witnessed baboons viciously killing leopard cubs and have heard of baboons killing lion cubs.”

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