Riaan Nysschens sat down at his computer in his new house in South Africa in an attempt to get some work done. But then he heard a strange sound he couldn’t ignore. And when he followed it, he found a baby lying on his floor…
Since 2009, Nysschens has helmed an eponymous wildlife photography business. He acts as a photographic guide and brings fellow photographers and animal lovers on treks to see the incredible landscapes and fauna that Africa has to offer.
So it’s easy to understand why Nysschens moved into a new home in South Africa in the summer of 2018. After all, the country encompasses a range of habitat types from lush forests to arid deserts, and for that reason it’s full of amazing animals.
In fact, those who venture to South Africa for wildlife watching often head on safari in search of the animals known as “The Big Five.” These are the African elephant, black rhino, cape buffalo, leopard and lion. This group evidently includes both stealthy predators and giant land mammals, further proving the diversity of the country’s natural beauty.
But on the homefront, Nysschens found himself dealing with a completely different type of creature. He actually noticed them as soon as he moved into his new place; they had technically moved in before the photographer.
Up in the rafters of his new abode, in fact, Nysschens discovered a handful of bush babies. In Afrikaans, they’re called nagapies, which means “little night monkeys.” The title certainly fits for the tiny, night-loving primates.
At first, Nysschens had only seen fully grown bush babies, he told The Dodo in October 2018. “I see them every evening leaving the house to go forage,” he said. Then their population started to grow; Nysschens said he began to hear “the squeaking of the little babies.”
Nysschens subsequently kept up with his furry roommates, but he never came close to their dwellings in the rafters. Eventually, though, the wildlife photographer found himself face to face with one of the bush babies when it came down to his level.
That encounter was, of course, unexpected. It all happened while Nysschens was plugging away on his computer. Then he heard something that he later said sounded like “a flop on the couch and some squeaking.”
Nysschens therefore followed the noise, and he found its adorable source. “I came to investigate and found a little [bush] baby lying on the floor,” he said. The incredibly small primate had landed on the soft sofa, thus cushioning it from a hurtful fall.
“The baby was not fazed in the least. Seeing it up close was definitely a first for me. It was the most precious little thing – looked like a miniature person,” Nysschens said. But as peaceful as the baby was, its mother was apparently nervously pacing in the rafters above.
So Nysschens knew that he had to do something to ensure that the mother would feel safe enough to come down and fetch her newborn. He said, “I proceeded to put the baby on the kitchen counter for Mommy to see.”
Ever the wildlife photographer, Nysschens then captured a video of what happened next. In the footage, the mother leaps from the rafters and lands on the kitchen floor. She then jumps on the counter, right next to her fallen baby.
Then the momma bush baby grabs her little one with her mouth and begins to bounce back toward Nysschens’ ceiling. From the counter, she reaches the top of the kitchen cabinets. And that’s just enough height to help her bound all the way back up to the rafters.
Nysschens later shared the clip to Facebook, where it clearly dazzled viewers. Many couldn’t actually believe the height that the bush baby had covered with just a few jumps. But the wildlife photographer was quick to provide commenters with the fact that the species “can jump around seven feet vertically.”
Another viewer commented to say that they found it odd to see “critters jumping around inside” of the house. But one of the most popular posts on Nysschens’ video lauded him “for doing the right thing and not trying to ‘save’ the baby.”
In fact, Nysschens told The Dodo that he had followed his chosen course of action because he hadn’t wanted to affect the mother-and-baby relationship by touching the little one and leaving a scent behind. “I would have hated for the mother to reject it,” he said.
Fortunately, though, his plan worked – and Nysschens was able to reunite the animals quickly and safely. And, he said, the memory of the unexpected situation was something he would have forever. “They are really precious,” he said.
It was a good thing that Nysschens had practice too. That’s because just one day after he shared the initial pictures of the bush baby on his couch, he shared another photo of the mom and her little one on what appears to be the same piece of furniture. The caption read, “It happened again!”
But Nysschens told The Dodo that he didn’t mind the bush babies’ behavior; he had moved into their home, after all. “We are, in fact, in their space and therefore they deserve all the respect. I just love observing them from down below and lend a helping hand in time of need… I cherish every moment of it,” he said.