Baboon "Gangs" Run Wild in Suburban South Africa

Leon Marshall in Johannesburg, South Africa
for National Geographic News
October 4, 2006

Conflicts between baboons and humans in the suburbs of prosperous Cape Town have gotten so bad that monitoring teams have been deployed to keep the animals away (South Africa map).

The large monkeys invade people's homes in the coastal Table Mountain region, sometimes confronting people who try to scare the baboons off.

Some residents have retaliated by shooting and poisoning baboons and by running them over on local roads.

The situation has also caused rifts within communities. In a suburb ironically named Welcome Glen, rival societies have formed, with some trying to protect the baboons and others wanting them removed or killed.

"We sometimes get into standoffs [with neighbors]," said Rose Ashley, a member of the Welcome Glen Environment Group, which is pro-baboon.

"We want the baboons to stay, and we see it as our task to protect them from people who want to harm them."

(Related: "Ten Thousand Foxes Roam London" [May 15, 2006].)

Breaking and Entering

Joan Laing is co-chair of the rival Welcome Glen Baboon-Free Neighbourhood Action Group. She says the animals are a menace.

"They break windows to get into houses," Laing said. "They even know how to open doors. And once inside, they make a mess. They empty the fridge, ruin furniture, and defecate all over."

And they're not afraid of people, she says.

"I have had them in my house several times, even while I was there. They simply brushed past me. I had to get out of the way," Laing said. "Even my husband got threatened by a baboon."

Continued on Next Page >>


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