CURRENTLY THERE ARE 17 groups totaling 420 baboons living in Cape Town’s outskirts. Lately, the increasingly bold baboons have been venturing into the city and raiding vehicles, easily opening car doors or swinging through windows to grab snacks.
Because tourists can’t seem to fight the temptation to feed the primates, baboons have learned to associate cars with food. The tourist boom expected to arrive with the 2010 World Cup will offer a whole new feeding ground for these animals.
Baboons can be aggressive, and it’s important not to encourage their behavior by offering them food. Some tour operators have been deliberately baiting the baboons, forcing the City of Cape Town to punish the practice with fines and possible prison sentences of up to six months.
The penalties may seem drastic, but residents of Cape Town are worried the animals will become more of a nuisance within the following months. The Baboon Files also points out that aggressive baboons already have to be shot be authorities.
Don’t feed the animals!
If you’re taking a trip to Cape Town for the World Cup, remember to steer clear of the baboons. Here are some tips from The Baboon Files for avoiding primate problems:
-Close the windows and doors of your vehicle while on the road.
-Do not leave the vehicle to take photos of the baboons, as they may sneak into your car while your back is turned.
-Baboons are not easily frightened by people. Do not stand in the open while carrying food, as baboons will snatch anything from your hands.
-While hiking or walking around, hide all food until safely inside a building or vehicle. Even carrying the food in a plastic bag will prove too tempting for a hungry critter.
Do you have any tips for dealing with baboon encounters? Share your story.