A recent incident on Fish Hoek mountainside resulted in a baboon being shot. This indicates that baboons do frequent the mount slopes at the south end of Fish Hoek Valley, however, by no means are they as active in the area as they are in Glencairn and Simons Town.
Lone, wandering, males transverse large distances in search of new troupes- an behaviour that prevents in breeding within a population, but family troupes tend to stay in designated territories. Territories are large, and when depending solely on what nature provides, the baboons tend to wander constantly around their area. This ensures that a food source has time to recover and that the baboons take advantage of all the seasonal bounty available to them. By nature, baboons are opportunists. The easier the food source, and the higher the calorie content the more attractive it is. often making the baboons overcome their natural fears in order to access it. This can change the natural behaviour of the baboons, making them return to food sources as often as they feel it will be available (troupes on the Cape Point Peninsula and in other urban areas certainly know what day is bin day, and there is anecdotal evidence of baboons gaining access to industrial food sites overnight, plundering bins of daily wastage and then calmly waiting for the morning workers to let them out).
As mentioned, it isn’t unheard of for the Glencairn Troupe of baboons to come as far north as the upper slopes of Fish Hoek Valley, but what we saw this Saturday lunch time must be very unusual, if not a first in recent times.
An unexpected encounter with baboons
Whilst returning from our Saturday morning walk down to Sunny Cove we were distracted by a commotion at the back of the Navy billet on Simons Town Road, Fish Hoek.
It took a while to realize what was happening, because it was all just so out of place, but then we worked out that it was a troupe of baboons being followed by a team of baboon monitors.
By the time we caught up with them most of the baboons were already across the main road, heading back up into the houses and the mountain sides.
Now this will make the good people of Glencairn and Simons Town snigger a little, but the residents of Fish Hoek are not as wise to baboon home invasions as you guys. Its unheard of for baboons to be this far down the mountain. There were open windows a plenty!
One apartment block escaped, they were alive to the warnings and residents appeared at the windows and shooed the baboons away: the house next door was not so lucky. The owner had just popped to the shop and left all the windows open- and by the looks of things- plenty of free food for the baboons.
They poured through the windows and then leisurely sauntered out and onto the roof with arms full of fruit and what looked like rusks.
Then the home owner returned, a sweet looking old lady, oblivious to what was happening in her home. Luckily we intercepted her and asked the monitors to enter the property with her to flush the last of the marauders out of the house, which they did happily. A big male put up a show of resistance, but eventually made off with the rest of the troupe. They sat happily on roof tops all up the slopes of Elsie’s Peak, devouring their ill-gotten gains.
So it would seem that none of us are safe from the wandering baboons, and should all have an eye to baboon security, even in the supposedly urban areas like Fish Hoek. I will say this however, all the measures that you would take to stop a criminal entering your house also work for baboons, and a burglar is much more dangerous when confronted and cornered than even the largest baboons. Baboons are smart, but they haven’t started carrying weapons yet. So if you go out and leave all your doors and windows open, with no guards at the window, expect to have a nasty surprise when you return home.
Will Fish Hoek be a regular baboons haunt?
Will this become a regular part of the troupes route- in which case will the residents of Fish Hoek have to become wise to how to handle baboon confrontations?
If the baboons have lost their fear of crossing the busy main roads I do not see why they wouldn’t visit the town center more often, especially early morning. The beach and shore line must be a tempting place, not to mention the constant allure of our food waste, carelessly discarded.
The baboons at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve are certainly OK with human contact, and regularly harass visitors for food. Time will tell whether the Fish Hoek Troupe will end up causing the same problems on Fish Hoek Beach, or whether the habitat is just too alien for them to feel comfortable.
One thing is for certain, we have to learn to share the Cape Point Peninsula with its other residents. Fair is fair, as we encroach onto their habitat, pushing the urban boundary further back into the fynbos, why should we be surprised when the baboons push back.
For other articles relating to baboons on this site see: