Baboons’ wild ways

Most times the show of teeth appears to be a bit of ‘sabre rattling’, but on this occasion, it was the real deal!  We heard them before sighting the pandemonium on the road ahead.  High decibels: “WAHOO, WAHOO” rang out, accompanied by what can only be described as howling hysteria by the rest of the troop.  Baboon behaviour can be daunting and I was glad to be in a car and not on foot.  One has to be respectful of their wild ways and keep a good distance away.  The chase was on – the adversaries were locals from the Smitswinkel  Bay troop.  It’s interesting to note that the subordinate of the two is the ex-alpha, deposed by a younger, brawnier and far more bolshy character from the Plateau Road troop.  He’d staged a coup a couple of years ago, yet the ‘Ex’ was still hanging round with his females in a lesser role. The action took place inside the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve, which of course is not where they are supposed to hang out; but what’s a fence in terms of agile, wild roaming animals.  The irony of the Cape Town baboon conservation management policy is keeping the ‘urban edge’ troops out of the reserve, and not in.

Two photos from the past; the bad old days when the Smits troop habitually raided homes and cars.

Smitswinkel troop comfortable in the suburbs _ 2009 Second from right – Fingers about 4 years old.
Fred, 2011.


10 thoughts on “Baboons’ wild ways

    1. So callous and heartless! I believe it’s day 25 and he is still out there roaming about in Tokai … what a saga, and a tipping point for the management protocols. Will be interesting to see how the new contractors, NCC take up the reigns.

  1. Such feuds between different baboons really are like a mirror held up to humanity, isn’t it?

    Your images are beautiful, as ever, Liz.

    Why don’t they want the Smitswinkel troop to venture into CoGHNR? Is it to avoid of conflict with the troop(s) resident within the reserve?

    1. Yes, so true – asserting dominance!
      The City have responsibility for managing the urban edge troops while SANParks manage the troops within the park. The Smits baboons had a terrible reputation as a raiding troop – cars, houses, picnics. And what an opportunity – those queues of motorists waiting to get into the park – like sitting ducks. Gradually though over the past few years the problem adult male baboons were all culled/killed. But that’s not to say that the raiding behaviour has stopped (there are just so many opportunities for easy pickings of anthropogenic food. Sad to say it’s always the baboons which must pay for the lack of conservation by-laws

  2. It is interesting to get news of the baboons again. I too wondered if the avoidance of conflict is behind the separation of the troops – can we really avoid it? As you say, fences mean nothing . I notice – and the prolonged drought here might have something to do with this – that baboons are being observed ever closer to town; still some kilometers to go, but closer than before.

    1. With recent publicity the CT baboons are certainly back in the spotlight again! It is a complicated set up here where the troops outside the park are City of Cape Town’s responsibility while those within are SANParks’. The ‘urban’ troops are a lot more savvy at spotting raiding opportunities and get into ‘trouble’ so City contracts a conservation management company whose rangers ‘guide’ the troops away from the urban edge and the outer limits of the park. Of course they easily give the rangers the slip!
      These times of drought are really so stressful! What a tough existence for the baboons as they would need to increase foraging distances. I fear that it won’t bode well for them coming closer to human habitation. Easy pickings by way of refuse bins and other anthropogenic food sources are all too common in attracting the animals to the urban edge. Hope they keep their distance.

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