Baboon car raids – who is to blame?

The popular Cape Town cycle tour is to be held on Sunday (12 March) and as the participants and visitors arrive in preparation for the event the peninsula is abuzz.   35,000 cyclists are registered to take part.   The lead up on the roads with the mix of cyclists, motorists, heavy vehicles, tour buses and wildlife sometimes result in dangerous situations.   The stretch of road between Millers Point and to the top of the Smitswinkel rise has been particularly challenging especially with it’s blind rises and sharp bends.  A couple of days ago, dodging cyclists and tour buses we came across this scene where a troop of baboons scattered across a section of road and motorists had pulled off to get a close-up viewing.   Generally this troop’s movements are curtailed by appointed rangers, but this day they had given them the slip.   What followed was inevitable,  car windows were open and baboons being opportunistic went to investigate.   A female baboon made off with a backpack, which fortunately she surrendered when chased.  Luckier still is that the adult male baboon following behind did not challenge the man as he retrieved the bag.  It’s doubly disappointing that careless motorists aren’t penalised or fined as this particular troop is being “conditioned” through the use of noise / pain deterence to prevent raiding behaviour.   If motorists abided by the conservation laws and kept their car windows up and doors locked the baboons would have a better chance of not becoming raiders.

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21 thoughts on “Baboon car raids – who is to blame?

  1. The guy looks as though he is enjoying every minute of it! I’m sure I wouldn’t take my children that close to a wild and unpredictable animal… idiots!

  2. Seeing your images made my blood boil! Why, oh why do people continue to show contempt for the law by openly disobeying it? This family were really lucky that the baboon didn’t react and put them all in danger …

    1. Isn’t it disquieting to see these scenes and know that all along the ‘people’ aspect in wildlife conservation awareness needed to be attended to despite the ‘re-training’ and culling of the ‘problem’ baboons? Cape Nature has always been the weak link in stepping up to it’s responsibilities in enforcing the laws. It was a pity that BLG’s input re the Baboon Protector Project wasn’t taken further. It was a good model in spreading awareness ( as you also proved with your consistent efforts) along the road in that scenic stretch where so many motorists/visitors stop.
      I’m also hearing that there are more incidents of raiding at Millers and Black Marlin, which all goes to prove that the very nature of baboons is to exploit their environment for best food returns. What is also worrying in this specific car raid is that it was initiated by a female baboon carrying a baby. So lucky for the man that the male baboon didn’t react in a show of dominance assertion.
      Will send this photo sequence onto CN and the BLG for what it may be worth? But i don’t hold much hope that anything will come of it.

  3. And we like to think we are smarter than baboons, and yet we seem to be so slow to learn and so unable to alter our behaviour, even after reasons for doing so are carefully explained! However, I do worry that many nature “documentaries” give the wrong signals when they show presenters interacting with wild animals at close quarters. There are mixed messages and bad examples out there, unfortunately.

  4. I have recently had a close encounter with an enormous male baboon at Tsitsikamma. It came out of the bush with no warning and stole some of the ingredients I was about to cook with! This problem arises because sp many tourists feed them. The Honorary Ranger on duty must have got hoarse warning people NOT to do so. As angry (taken aback really) as I was, I cannot really blame the baboon.

    1. Aren’t they sneaky opportunists! It’s a difficult job policing baboons and humans; i’m intrigued that baboons no matter where in the country will try their luck especially around picnic sites. And they can be pretty persistent too.

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