Capetonians are especially privileged in that the festive season falls in the middle of summer. Many residents and visitors take advantage of the good weather by taking drives around the Cape Peninsula, exploring Cape Point, or enjoying a picnic at Miller’s Point or under the trees in Tokai Forest.
“These locations usually offer people a chance to see some of the area’s baboons. However, baboons are wild animals. It is illegal to feed baboons that roam in and around our city. The best advice is to observe the animals from a distance and not leave any open food which they can steal,” says the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Alderman Belinda Walker.
The City’s Veterinary Scientist and baboon expert, Dr Elzette Jordan, advises that once a baboon starts stealing food from humans it can become aggressive.
“It is very important that the public keep well away from baboons, and that they do not have food anywhere near a baboon. Remember, baboons can also open car doors and climb in through open windows so lock your doors and keep windows closed. By keeping your distance and being sure not to let them think that you are the source of their food, you are giving them a future on the Peninsula,” says Dr Jordan.
Residents should follow these guidelines when in the presence of baboons:
- Feed baboons in ANY way
- Leave the safety of your car in the presence of baboons
- Interact or entice a baboon to come closer
- Litter (including cigarette butts, wrappers, food scraps, bottles etc.)
- Try to grab back any article taken – wait until the baboon drops it and retrieve it when safe to do so
- Lock all car doors and keep all windows and sun roofs fully closed
- Drive slowly, but keep going
- Take photos from within the safety of your car
- Enjoy and appreciate the privilege of seeing these wild animals in their natural habitat
If you are confronted by a baboon stay calm, avoid eye contact, speak sternly to it and – most importantly – drop whatever you have in your hands. It will be examined and, if it is not edible, it will be discarded. Do not corner a baboon – stand aside for it to pass.
Feeding of baboons is punishable under Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974. Admission of guilt fines start from the first offence of R300 and R900 for the second offence. The third offence carries a fine of R3 000 or six months imprisonment.
The public can report any baboon-related incidents to the Baboon Reporting Hotline on 071 588 6540.