South Africa fights baboon problem before World Cup tourism surge
Cape Town has problems ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. All countries hosting such an event have issues to address such as logistics, crime, traffic jams and more. Cape Town has all these and in addition has a problem with rogue baboons. According to local reports, there are about 420 baboons in 17 troupes that roam the city’s outskirts, especially the popular scenic sites along the coast.
Baboons are a protected species under South African law but their persistent pursuit of food is causing conflict. They frequently attack cars as they identify them with food. Baboons are becoming adept at attacking cars like old time bandits and making off with tourist’s possessions looking for food. This can have frustrating side effects such as a baboon making off with a backpack containing a passport for example. Some locals are fearful that given the surge in tourists for the World Cup the potential of an attack or increased nuisance raids is a real probability.
Visitors to South Africa’s premier holiday destination – and a World Cup 2010 venue – who are worried about becoming victims of the country’s high crime rate could find themselves instead robbed by a more furry kind of felon: baboons.
The cheeky primates have learned how to open car doors and jump through windows in pursuit of tasty sandwiches and snacks.
City officials are battling to control the increasingly aggressive troupes and there are fears the problem will only worsen with the influx of visitors to Cape Town during the World Cup next year.
On Tuesday, a troupe of 29 baboons raided four cars outside Simon’s Town, a small coastal neighborhood. A baboon dubbed “Fred”, the leader of the group, opened unlocked doors and jumped through windows to search for food.
He ransacked a bag in the back seat of a red car as a couple panicked about their passports. A girl screamed nearby as a baboon hopped into her car through a back window. Others climbed on car roofs and hoods, looking for ways inside.
Many of those who stopped to watch the raid had their own cars broken into by other baboons.
“We spend the whole day basically rescuing tourists,” said Mark Duffels, a volunteer who monitors the baboons in an effort to keep them at bay.