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A Baboon Just Stole My Headlamp - The Traveling Alphabet
Malaria Pills

A Baboon Just Stole My Headlamp

“Dad, a baboon stole my headlamp” was Colin’s response when I asked him to pack his stuff and get ready. Since I am constantly working with the boys to take responsibility for their actions and not blaming others, I cringed at his excuse. Was he really blaming a baboon for taking his headlamp when he obviously misplaced it?

There is a saying in African where foreigners utter the three letters, “TIA” meaning, “This Is Africa.” It is used in a variety of situations such as when the power is out all day and the hotel staff shows no urgency to fix it. Or, when the internet speeds are so slow I wish I had my lightning-fast 9600 baud modem. Or, when a baboon steals your son’s headlamp. All have happened.

We were in Murchison Falls, located near the source of the Nile, in northern Uganda on a two-day safari. After visiting this less than jaw-dropping water feature, we came back to our safari tents to shower and get ready for dinner. Audrey and Colin were staying in one while Decker and I bunked in the other. Shortly after returning, Audrey yelled over, “Honey, I think someone was in our tent.”

Fearing that something was stolen, I ran over. Then, we quickly surmised it likely wasn’t someONE but someTHING. Earlier that morning I had seen baboons raid a nearby tent looking for grub. I felt we were safe since we had removed all our food as the staff had advised. However, the baboons apparently felt they should check anyway and broke in and went through Colin’s luggage, turned over the night stand, and generally made a mess of things.

Fortunately, a worker noticed the perpetrators rummaging through our belongings and was able to scare them away. But, not before those pesky critters stole a few things. As this is common, one of the managers went to where the baboons take their loot and waited for them to retreat. Then, he grabbed the stolen items including a packing cube with Colin’s socks and underwear and a Ziploc bag with our malaria pills and returned them.

It is not uncommon for these criminally-prone creatures to steal a bag, rummage through it for food, and then drop it on the ground and walk away. We lucked out because after further inspection, it appears we only lost one headlamp and our malaria pills remained unopened.

So, if you happen to be in Murchison Falls and see a baboon walking around with a headlamp, please try to get it back for me. There is a reward.

Check out our most recent video: African Animals from A – Z where both Decker and Colin are driving through Africa.


After finalizing this blog and getting ready to post it, Audrey walked in  and said, “I have two headlamps.” I had mine. Decker had his. So, it wasn’t the baboon. In order to not be “Fake News” I also verified that the teeth marks on our malaria pills and Ziploc bag (see picture above) were not Audrey’s. It still appears those were caused by baboons.

Bryan Gillette

Bryan Gillette is the founder and principal consultant for Summiting Group focusing on Leadership and Organizational Development. He has traveled extensively for both work and personal reasons visiting almost 60 countries and 40 United States. He is an avid runner and cyclist and ran 200 miles around Lake Tahoe in 76 hours as well as cycled across the United States. He recently spent one year traveling the world with his family.

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