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Baboons face an uneasy future
24 April 2009 ~ 15:12The other night I watched a very interesting TV documentary about a remarkable woman in South Africa who is standing up for the wellbeing of chacma baboons who have been targeted by farmers and householders for encroaching onto human territory.
Karin Sachs has, along with her Canadian partner, raised orphaned baboons and other primates and is a great expert on their behaviour, having been accepted into several wild baboon troupes. It was terribly touching watching one young abandoned baboon grooming through the boyfriend’s hairy chest!
The problem is, as usual, of man’s making. We have bulldozed the baboons’ habitat and built farms and housing on their traditional feeding grounds. Little wonder then that they have taken to raiding garbage cans and breaking into houses in search of food. Being clever primates they are more than capable of opening doors and getting into fridges and cupboards. As one home owner said, God help them once they learn to open beer cans.
Two rival factions have formed over the baboon issue, one pro-baboon group and one anti-baboon group. Many householders and farmers shoot the baboons, resulting in deaths and injuries. The programme showed baboons with missing hands and feet. The pro-baboon group favour methods of deterring the primates by not leaving doors open or rubbish left out in the open, and wardens have been employed to make sure tourists do not get out of their cars to photograph the baboons. They are more than likely to get into the car to steal food, handbags etc! Although they are rarely dangerous, one lady was bitten when she tried to snatch her icecream back from a hungry baboon.
The baboons are really really sweet and very clever. It’s totally unfair that humans continue to expand into ‘wild’ areas and ruin their chances of survival, even having the cheek to kill them just for wanting to survive. I do despair of us as the so-called ‘most intelligent species.’ We are certainly far and away the most destructive.