OK. Let’s just say it straight out. Baboons are a colossal pain in the butt. I understand that this is their space and they have more of a right to be here than we do, but they are still an utter pestilence when you are forced to share a space with them.
We’ve all had that neighbour or tenant that you can’t wait to get rid of – who makes noise till all hours of the night, accumulates a pile of trash and then tosses some over to your side of the fence or just generally goes out of his way to be as annoying as humanly possible. Well step aside neighbour-from-hell and hello baboons!
When we are away for longish periods, we lock up all our movables in the house. Do you have any idea how much fun a baboon can have with pillows and tables and chairs if you don’t? We learnt that lesson the hard way, that’s for sure. As for electrical wiring – that is where they really make their mark. I think when they saw the name “Bateleur” in Bateleur Lodge they thought it was specifically worded for them. They visit and practice their acrobatic and trapeze artist skills as often as they can. Boy, are they ever tiresome? We have lost count of the number of times we have had to get our wiring for our camera system fixed or light fittings repaired thanks to their antics!
Luckily we have a fantastic camera system that was installed by Tony from Next Step Security. It has been a lifesaver on so many occasions – and has also allowed us to view events we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see. Very handy.
A while back, while I was staying at the Lodge by myself, I went for a game drive. The word and invite went out (faster than a cheetah can catch an impala), to every baboon within a 5km radius that the “Big Baboon Bash in the Bush” was on. They are like badly behaved teenage children and they don’t even need any restricted substances to behave badly. No concept of property ownership and blatant disregard for any rules and consequences! At least a delinquent teenager can be appropriately punished with wifi restrictions, but the baboons just scatter off into the bush without a backwards glance looking for the next naughty thrill.
I came home to baboon poop, overturned chairs and general mayhem. Their games of hide and seek and tag were evident everywhere, and they even left a special game of hopscotch for me over the smelly little presents they had left behind.
While monkeys are naughty but cute (although still wild animals and as such dangerous), baboons can be downright terrifying. Chacma baboons aka Papio ursinus can live to 45 years and the largest males can weigh in at almost 30kg. They live in troops which can number up to 100, although troops are more likely to be around 30 to 40 baboons. They are also extremely strong and have longer teeth than lions do! The shrieks and noises they make when they are fighting can be heard from very far away, and an alpha male’s guttural call of Bogom, Bogom, is almost as impressive as a lion’s roar.
Some of their antics are cute and funny to watch – but this is best done at a distance. They have been known to attack humans and even to prey on small children and babies, although this is not a regular occurrence.
We have some massive boys that visit at times! Recently a huge baboon caused mayhem in our estate breaking into houses. He managed to single-handedly remove a sliding door off its rails to gain access into a house and then help himself to whatever he could get his hands on. While that may sound vaguely amusing it is utterly terrifying if you are the victim of this intrusion.
Having said all the above, I would still choose to listen to the squeals, grunts and calls of the troop of baboons who visit the riverbed at the bottom of our garden having simple squabbles or serious territorial battles any day, over the noise of revving cars and boisterous teenage parties!