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.

The protective role of ‘big sister’

It is interesting to watch young baboons act out gender roles.  The juvenile males rough and tumble and play fight while the young females practise an infant-protective role in their play.

While mum is foraging baby scampers off to explore. But he is not left on his own for long before ‘big sister’ comes to supervise his activities.

A retrospective journey

I reached a milestone just the other day – five years of blogging!  Although initially i was a reluctant blogger and got off to a slow start i’m now hooked by the WordPress community spirit.

Thank you to my fellow bloggers who’ve followed, commented, liked, engaged in topics and made it all worthwhile. I enjoy the connection to this virtual world where i can pop over to the far corners of the globe, discover all manner of information; get involved in ‘conversations’ and be inspired so that my bucket list of destinations grows ever longer.

Those who follow my posts will know that my interest is documenting the activity on the urban edge, the overlap between humans and wildlife.

My story really started with Fred and this is the shot which kicked it off –

Baboon_Fred_takes_charge

It was during the summer season of 2008 that Fred, the alpha-male of the Smitswinkel baboon troop came to the attention of residents and motorists in the area for his emboldened raiding of houses and cars.  He was to become quite an urban legend and even has an entry in Wikipedia.

This scene is a classic “Fred” shot  but one which is overlaid with much pathos.   While we laugh at the situation, it smacks of a sense of  failed ‘conservation awareness’.   Why would baboons want to raid cars, what was the attractant?   Was this learned behaviour and who are the real culprits in these scenarios?

Hope you’ll watch out for further posts as i dig through the archives on my”Retrospective Journey”.

 

 

Chacma baboons subjected to “Selfie” portraits

Picture the scene: the Smitswinkel baboon troop (23 individuals) going about their daily routine.  There they are minding their own business, foraging for food along the scenic route to Cape Point when along come some eager tourists looking for photo opportunities.  Granted, generally the baboons are protected by the Human Wildlife Solutions rangers who are contracted to manage their movements but today the animals give them the slip and they roam freely.   Usually the rangers successfully keep them off the road.  In the past this troop has suffered badly through the negative impact of visitors encroaching into their space and through motorists feeding them.  I have blogged in previous posts here and here and in December last year.

So what is it about this narcissistic obsession of taking “Selfies”?   The visitors in this scene are Spanish speaking and are obviously not familiar with keeping a respectful distance from wild creatures.