I suppose it is possible to watch baboons and not project human emotions and intentions on them, but I can't do it. They are fascinating to watch precisely because their actions seem so humanlike. Part of this reaction is no doubt because our anatomies are so similar. The fellow on the right, for example, appears deep in thought mostly because his hand is close to his mouth in a gesture common among humans pondering some issue. Elephants may "ponder" just as many issues as baboons, but because they don't have humanlike hands, they can't adopt a pose recognizable to us.
All of the baboons here belong to the "Savanna" species, but consist of three different races: chacma, olive and yellow. The chacma baboons inhabited the southern parks (the photos here come from Chobe National Park in Botswana and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe). Also from the south (the Selous) is the yellow baboon. The olive baboons were found in the parks further north, including Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara and Lewa Downs in Kenya.
The chacma baboons were great fun to watch. In Chobe National Park, we watched as a large troop moved across several streams. The baboons revealed a variety of distinct personalities. When some of them came to the water, they tried to devise various means of crossing without getting wet. Some tried to tiptoe across. Others got up some speed and took a running jump. Still others walked casually across not caring in the least.
At night, baboons take to the trees for safety from the predators of the night. Baboons' vision is very similar to our own and they do not see well in the dark. Just being in the trees, however, doesn't mean it's time to rest. Often, they act just like a bunch of unruly children. One will sneak up on another, grab him from behind, then scamper off. Other fights get more serious as rivals compete for the best locations or just settle old scores.
Baboons are very social animals and travel in large troops dominated by several males. They are not territorial and often interact with other troops. Such interactions do not always go smoothly, however. The large males are particularly short tempered and are quick to bare their sizable fangs at rivals.
In northern Tanzania and Kenya we saw olive baboons. The males, with their large manes, appear much larger than chacma baboons. In Lake Manyara National Park we saw a very young baboon that couldn't have been more than a few weeks old. It would venture off on its own for a short distance, but its family was always close at hand and very watchful.
Finally, there is one example of a yellow baboon from southern Tanzania (also in a distinctly human pose).