South African suburbs and nature collide: humans vs. baboons

Suburban development often brings humans into what were once relatively quiet places with lots of wildlife. This is a common issue in the United States involving animals like deers and coyotes (to use a local example). According to the Telegraph, South African suburbs are now dealing with baboons:

It is not just the vineyards in South Africa which are under siege, however, but also the exclusive neighbouring suburb of Constantia, home to famous residents including Earl Spencer, Wilbur Smith and Nelson Mandela…

The baboons lived in the mountains of Cape Town long before humans took up residence, but development has forced the unlikely neighbours into increasingly closer contact.

Before laws afforded baboons a protected status a decade ago, troublesome animals were regularly killed or maimed by home owners and farmers. Now around 20 full-time “baboon monitors” are employed to protect them and guide them away from residential areas. It has proved mission impossible. Last week, a 12 year old boy was left traumatised after confronting a troop who had broken into his family home.

Hearing noises from the kitchen, he went to investigate and found the beasts ransacking cupboards. When the child fled upstairs to find his babysitter, three males gave chase and surrounded him as he made a tearful phone call to his mother, while the animals pelted him with fruit…

Chickens, geese, peacocks and even a Great Dane dog have been killed in recent weeks by the marauding baboons – the males have huge and terrifying canine teeth. Roof tiles, electric fences, orchards and vegetables gardens have been trashed.

“Lunch parties in the garden are now just impossible,” a homeowner complained. “It is so unrelaxing. Rather than chatting over our meal, we are looking over our shoulders and bolting the food as quickly as we can before it is stolen. We can’t even leave a window open in summer. We are under siege.”

In a concession to despairing residents, wildlife authorities have begun collaring baboons identified as “troublesome” and imposed a strict “three strikes” policy whereby animals which repeatedly break into homes are humanely destroyed.

The quote from the homeowner is a great example of the suburban ethos: how dare any one intrude upon our suburban safe haven. Of course, this ignores any ideas about the impact of human development on natural life.

Additionally, the best solution is have criminalized baboons operating under a three-strikes policy::? I would think there has to be some better solution.

One thought on “South African suburbs and nature collide: humans vs. baboons

  1. Pingback: Why Americans love suburbs #7: closer to nature | Legally Sociable

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