Apes blamed for crime spree

Apes blamed for crime spree

I saw that headline and thought, this has gotta be good.

And lo and behold, the story didn’t disappoint.

South Africa’s crime problem has taken a new twist.

A gang of baboons is being blamed for a series of break-ins.

The chacma baboons, which live wild in the Cape peninsula, have been raiding people’s homes for food and causing thousands of pounds in damage.

“People here are getting very angry,” Dr Peter Kirsh said, as a baboon strutted along the street beneath his balcony.

“They get into the kitchens, they know where the fridge is, they open it and take everything, and then they defecate everywhere.”

Dr Kirsch is just one of many victims of “baboon crime” in the Cape Peninsula.

“I put these bars on my windows,” John Lourens says, gripping the metal. “But still, the next thing I knew I had a baboon in my living room.”

The residents say the “invasions” happen almost daily and claim the baboons are aggressive as they search for food.

Hundreds have signed a petition demanding that the animals be moved to a nature reserve. Some have gone even further and shot at them.

The chacma baboons in the Cape are a protected species but, to the alarm of conservationists, at least twenty out of the population of 350 have been killed in the past two years.

“Tammy lost her leg because her femur was shattered by a bullet,” Jenni Trethowan told me, pointing out a three legged female hopping through the Cape scrub with her tiny baby.

Ms Trethowan runs an organisation called Baboon Matters, which aims to educate people about the animals and reduce conflict.

She employs a team of monitors who try to herd the baboon troops out of the villages and into the mountains, where instead of dining on supermarket food they eat a more natural diet of berries and leaves.

She admits it doesn’t always work but says that the residents should enjoy their visitors rather than harming them. “As humans we are privileged to be living alongside these animals,” she said.

I can only imagine how bad it is to have baboons eating all your food and crapping all over your house, but… you kind of can’t help but laugh. Just a little.

In all seriousness though, I love Ms. Trethowan’s quote.

“As humans we are privileged to be living alongside these animals.”

Yes… what an incredible privilege for those people to be living alongside baboons who wreck their houses, eat all their food, crap all over the place, and generally cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. They are SO LUCKY! Maybe I can get the Jacksonville Zoo to release some of their monkeys so that us Floridians can be equally lucky.

Sometimes, I just don’t get the envirokooks at all.

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