I was saddened to take some clients up Table mountain last week, who had had a bad encounter with a baboon. Whilst at Cape Point, a large baboon had come very aggressively towards the youngest son. The boys instinct was a very sensible one. He threw the chip packet he was carrying in one direction, and ran in another. End result he was safe.
Unfortunately (and in no way the tourists responsibility) the baboon’s aggressive behavior was rewarded and he will no doubt try the same tactic again.

Anywhere else where you encounter baboons they will generally leave you alone.
You may hear the characteristic bark and see the troop somewhere in the distance. But that is about it. Even in Silvermine where the baboons have been habituated to mountain bikers so you often get to within striking distance. I have never heard of aggressive behavior here. Why? Because the baboons have never been fed or come to associate man with food.

The troop in the South Peninsula have began to associate people with food. Not only through being fed but also though the continued encroachment onto their territory. As more people live in the areas they have learned to forage in dustbins and pick up litter. From here some have learned that within a house there are often goodies. Thus houses have been broken into and “burgled”. People come to regard them as pests and fear for their dogs and children’s safety.

I find the whole thing incredibly sad. The Chacma baboon is one of the few surviving wild animals left in the Western Cape and specifically on the Cape Peninsula. They are an incredible boost to tourism. For many people an encounter with them is exciting and wonderful. They can be amusing and clever in their antics. For the family I took on Table Mountain they have a terrific story to go home with and thank goodness no harm was done. However, the fact remains that they are a problem.(possibly that should be rephrased, to reflect the fact that we (human beings) are as much part of the problem as the wild animal itself) Surely as we are the ones expanding our developments into their territory, we should be able to develop a way to protect both the baboons and the tourists and residents.

I know the National Parks Board and Cape Nature conservation are working on a solution. One of the really positive developments in baboon management has been the use of monitors. These are a group of men who move with the troops and steer them out of dangerous situations. Thus keeping them away from suburbia and tourist hubs.

There is no easy solution I know. I just hope we can come up with something.