Out there in Cape Town, it’s not just the folks you’d expect nosing around the streets. Nope, the chacma baboons have made themselves right at home in the city’s fringes. These guys are native to southern Africa and have gotten pretty cozy with the whole urban scene.
Normally, they chill in the hills and slopes on the outskirts of Cape Town. But guess what? Those spots where they used to chow down are now right in the middle of the new neighborhoods that have cropped up.
Now, this has brewed up a bit of a clash because a bunch of people aren’t too thrilled about having these monkeys around.
Why They’re Here
Esme Beamish, a brainy baboon researcher from Cape Town University’s Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa, reckons it’s a no-brainer why these monkeys are dipping into the city. She says, “Our places are like a big magnet for them. It’s not just the extra grub lying around in bins, gardens are lush, and there are cool hangout spots for baboons too.”
She adds, “Even if we wrapped the city in baboon-proof gear, they’d still swing by for the goodies.”
See, these baboons get easy grub from Cape Town’s trash bins, so they spend less time foraging and more time doing their baboon thing—chilling with mates and their crew.
Trouble in Paradise
But here’s the rub: this whole setup isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for both the baboons and the locals. Some of these monkeys have bumped heads with people and their pets. And guess what else? They’ve been wrecking farmers’ crops and messing with local winemakers’ goods while they’re at it.
Beamish is worried about the baboons’ well-being. She says, “They’re rubbing shoulders with dogs, cars, and those zappy power lines. That’s a big reason they end up hurt or worse.”
“The deal now is… we’ve got a not-so-healthy baboon gang. Their skin’s a mess from too much bin diving, and their teeth are a disaster.”
Fixing the Rumble
So, the local crew and residents have tried to smooth things out by cutting down on food waste and rolling out these supposedly “baboon-proof” bins. They even slapped up fences back in 2013 to keep these cheeky fellas out.
But, you know how it goes—some folks have taken matters into their own hands and started shooting the monkeys with pellet guns. And if a baboon’s been a real pain, they’ve even been put down.
Seems like the baboons wandering the city streets has dropped a tad, but there’s this fear looming that if we push too hard, they might vanish from their usual hangouts. The city’s blabbed about building more fences to corral the baboons back into the rural scene.
They’re thinking of throwing up fences along the top of Cape Peninsula, their natural turf, and some more around the suburbs out west. Less access to the good stuff down low, hoping more baboons will stick to the high ground.
Jenni Trethowan, the big cheese at Baboon Matters, reckons it’s best to keep these dudes away from us humans. She says, “By making it tough for them, hopefully, they’ll think, ‘Eh, let’s just hang up here.’”
So, that’s the baboon saga in Cape Town—a real mix-up between wild living and city vibes.