Baboons: Practical tips for living in harmony with our simian neighbors- part 1

Mother Baboon with child
Mother and child

Further to my recent post regarding walking with baboons I realized that it is easy for someone to support these animals if that person doesn’t have to actually deal with them (no baboons in Fish Hoek!)
Well, I am not going to be moving to Glencairn or Simons Town anytime soon so I thought that I would do the next best thing and look into tactics for combating these potential pests. The internet turned out to be a great resource and this is a summary of what I discovered.
It is well know that the reason that baboons are coming into residential areas is in search of food. They are intelligent, resourceful creatures and not to be underestimated as an adversary, however, we have a supposedly superior intellect so surely we can stop them in their endeavors without actually having to shoot them. If the free meal is stopped then the baboons will stop coming into residential areas so frequently and therefore reduce the conflict between the Capes two simian species.

Keeping Baboons Out of Your Home

The first problem is that the food sources are many and some of them are not obvious.
Some things are easy to identify and unfortunately grab the headlines. Home invasions by baboons are a massive problem. A few baboons in a property can cause havoc, causing real damage, not just a mess. Finding a baboon in your property is scary, I have experienced it first hand and it was unnerving. The best way to deal with this is not to allow the baboons’ access to your property in the first place; and this is not as difficult as most people would think. Basically if you use measures to stop criminals getting in then it isn’t much more expense or more of an effort to stop the baboons. Baboons are in essence house breaking, they just don’t see it as a crime (maybe most criminals don’t either), but they aren’t all that determined, just opportunists. Something as simple as closing the doors and windows will stop them getting in. You can also adopt an out of site, out of mind attitude to food: a bowl of fresh fruit in view of an open window is just too tempting for a baboon to resist.
Of course, no one wants to live in a prison, with all the doors and windows closed all the time. The good news is that baboons are fairly large animals. If you have burglar bars on windows and doors, there is a good chance that all but very small baboons will be unable to break in. In fact, if the bars are less than 8cm wide you are unlikely to ever find a baboon in your house.
You may think that leaving a window open on a latch is fine even without burglar bars, because the gap is so small. Well no, the baboons will just lift the latch and open the window (someone broke into our house in a similar way through the bathroom window, if a person can do it then it is an easy fit for a baboon). One way around this is to use a window lock. This is a small barrel that fits onto the peg that holds the widow open. They screw over the latch and are secured using a key; baboons are clever, but they can’t pick locks!

The Baboons in my house already!

If you do find a baboon in your kitchen the best thing to do is to remain calm. The baboon is taking a big risk entering your property and will therefore be very nervous, the last thing you want to do is make them any more frightened than they already are. As soon as it realizes that it has been rumbled it will want to make a hasty retreat. Let it, and let it go with what ever it has decided to steal, it’s really not worth fighting the animal over a few scraps of food. The best thing to do is to make the path of escape as easy as possible. Open a door or window and get well out of the way. The chances are though that the animal will try and leave the same way that it came in, if you can see where that is then try and stay well clear of the baboon’s path to this exit. Close any internal doors so that it cannot get access to the rest of the house and stay calm. If you become aggressive then you cannot expect anything but aggression back.
Once the animal has left the premises secure all open doors and windows to discourage a return. Then set about assessing the risk of a repeat offense, because if the baboon sees your property as a place to get an easy meal and you don’t do anything to prevent access then it will return and do the same thing again.

Next time I will look at things you can do on the outside of the property to discourage baboons from regularly visiting your property.

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