[monkeywire] Baboons harrass tourists in South Africa

Carrie McLaren stay.free at verizon.net
Wed Jan 22 16:42:58 EST 2003

Baboons go ape as tourists ignore warnings

January 20 2003 at 05:41AM
By Fatima Schroeder

An electric fence put up behind a restaurant at Cape Point three 
months ago has decreased the number of attacks by baboons, but the 
primates are finding their way in from the parking area and are 
continuing to harass visitors.

Tania Brooker, of the Two Oceans Restaurant, said the problem was 
that tourists, most of whom were foreigners, fed the baboons, 
ignoring notices instructing people not to. Most often, however, the 
baboons stole food from tourists.

Sometimes the baboons singled out small children who were carrying 
chips. They grabbed the children and dragged them along, Brooker 
said. They also got into people's cars and entered the restaurant if 
the door was not manned.

Restaurant manager Brett Williams said most foreign visitors thought 
the baboons were cute and amusing.

"But the locals don't like it when the baboons enter the premises," he added.

Carol Anne, of the Logo Shop, said she had seen baboons bite tourists 
several times last week. One had snatched a tourist's sunglasses and 
run off, she said.

Arthur van Staden, of Ocean View, who was at Buffel's Bay on Sunday, 
said the troop's alpha male had gone for him while he was picnicking 
at the same spot last week. He had shooed away a young baboon, 
prompting the male to charge at him with his teeth bared.

Van Staden's wife frightened the baboon away.

Minutes after the Cape Times arrived at Cape Point on Sunday it began 
to rain, but even the bad weather didn't deter the baboons from 
looking for food.

As visitors to Buffel's Bay ran to their vehicles, the baboons seized 
the opportunity to snatch food.

One man put a jacket over his head and headed into the rain to chase 
a baboon who had nicked a sausage from his braai. But the baboon got 
away, with the sausage dangling from his mouth.

Another finished off a lunch as the family watched him from their car 
while waiting for the rain to pass.

A brochure handed to visitors as they enter Cape Point warns that 
baboons are dangerous and attracted by food. It says visitors should 
not feed or tease the animals.

"Baboons that have been conditioned to receive food from humans may 
have to be destroyed," the brochure warns.

It instructs visitors to keep a safe distance from baboons, move away 
slowly if a baboon approaches, avoid displaying food when baboons can 
be seen in the area, and avoid opening car windows or doors when 
baboons are around.

Finally, it warns that anyone caught feeding baboons will be fined.

According to the section ranger for the Cape Peninsula National Park, 
Justin Buchman, people caught feeding baboons face fines of up to 
R500. "Unfortunately, many people ignore the sign."

Buchman said the electric fence had been put up near the restaurant 
as a first step to deter baboons from entering the area.

* This article was originally published on page 5 of The Cape Times 
on 20 January 2003


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