Having a baboon in your house can be a startling experience, but it is important to know that the baboon is only looking for food and does not wish to harm you. Conflict can arise however if the baboon feels threatened or cornered.
The baboon may feel trapped and is likely to find your arrival stressful. By keeping calm, with no sudden movements, you are less likely to incite a negative interaction. Trapped animals can be unpredictable, chaotic movement and loud noises can exacerbate their fear. The calmer you are, the calmer the baboon will be.
AVOID EYE CONTACT
Staring can be seen as a threat.
DO NOT TRY TO TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM A BABOON
If the baboon picked something up other than food, it will inspect it and eventually drop it. Confronting the baboon to retrieve something could cause an aggressive response or cause the baboon to flee with your item.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LURE THE BABOON OUT OF YOUR PROPERTY USING FOOD
Apart from being illegal, this will only teach a baboon that humans are a direct source of food, thus emboldening their behaviour around humans.
KEEP PETS AWAY
Whenever possible, place pets in another room where they cannot interact with the baboon. Never set a dog on a baboon as this can lead to serious injury for both the baboon and dog.
PROVIDE AS MANY EXIT ROUTES AS POSSIBLE
Identify the nearest exit and ensure that you are not blocking it. If possible, without cornering or
getting too close to the baboon, open more windows and doors to provide multiple escape routes.
The baboon is then less likely to panic or react aggressively.
ENCOURAGE THE BABOON TO LEAVE
Habituated baboons are more challenging to move along.
Methods that you can try are:
• Clapping your hands
• Banging two pots together
• Spraying the baboon with water
IMPORTANT: Ensure that you do not corner the baboon, get too close to them, or block their exit
during this process.
IS IT NECESSARY TO PROVIDE ADDITONAL FOOD IN THE NATURAL AREAS FOR BABOONS?
This question is frequently asked by residents concerned that baboons visit urban areas because they do not have enough food in the natural areas. The Cape Peninsula baboon troops have access to natural food throughout their ranging areas and at this stage there is no evidence to suggest that they require supplemental feeding. There is significant evidence however to show that baboons are drawn to town because of high calorie human-derived food rewards present there.
DIMINISHED ROLE IN THE ECOSYSTEM
Locally baboons serve as the only large-bodied seed disperser and play a vital role in the survival of our fynbos. In the absence of their ecological services (as a result of a shifted focus on supplementary feeding), the fynbos is likely to suffer. “In order to reduce conflict between people and baboons, we need to focus on removing their access to humanderived foods from houses and bins. This will encourage baboons to spend more time foraging naturally in the fynbos and fulfilling their ecological role.”
INCREASED INTRATROOP AGGRESSION
Supplementary feeding impacts baboon social behaviour. Rates of aggression amongst troop members increase in response to calorie rich foods in concentrated areas. Baboons have a very strict hierarchy which dictates troop feeding behaviour. Feeding stations are thus not only likely to feed a few of the top-ranking baboons but also cause an elevated level of aggression and increased rates of injury amongst troop members.
INCREASED BIRTH RATE
Provisioned baboons have more offspring in their lifetime than natural feeding baboons. Females with access to high calorie foods reach sexual maturity sooner, wean their infants faster and become pregnant again in a shorter period of time . Disrupting the natural population balance by contributing to a baboon population increase, particularly in an area of human-baboon tension, is not in the best interest of baboons or residents.