A baboon pays a visit

Published on
January 23, 2018

It was a warm morning in Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park. Student Denise Eurlings-van der Made was sitting on her bedroom porch when she heard a rustling noise behind her. Startled, she looked around and found herself face to face with a large male baboon!

Eurlings-van der Made studied Biology at Wageningen University & Research between 2000 and 2006, during which time she had the opportunity to follow a course in Tropical Ecology at a research station in Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda. “Twenty students from various European and African countries participated in the course. For two months, we all lived together in the park and followed lectures in the research station and practical classes in the bush.”

On the day of her special encounter with the baboon, Eurlings-van der Made had been ill and so had remained behind in her bedroom. The baboon was looking for food in her wastepaper basket. “We had been warned that baboons can react aggressively, and when I saw it my reflex was to jump up and run straight out of the house. My heart was pounding! I think the baboon was just as shocked as I was, because he took off in the opposite direction, into the forest.”

The baboon turned out to be a regular visitor to the research station and a second meeting followed a few days later. “He came running out of the kitchen, with the cook in hot pursuit, waving a pan. The cook explained that this baboon regularly came visiting, looking for food.”

Eurlings-van der Made often thinks back to her encounter with the baboon and always has to laugh about it. “It was one of the more extraordinary events during my time as a student at WUR.” She submitted her memories of her trip to University Fund Wageningen (UFW) for the occasion of WUR’s hundredth anniversary. Well-wishers can also donate to various projects that are being organised as part of the anniversary on the 100x100 project website. The memories will be on display during the coming alumni day on 23 June 2018.