Warning: Don't feed baboons

14 December 2011 - 02:04 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

Cape Town has warned tourists who want to share a meal with baboons this festive season that the primates can bite the hand that feeds them.

City councillor Belinda Walker also warned holidaymakers that it was illegal to feed the baboons.

She said locals and tourists took advantage of Cape Town's sunny weather to explore Cape Point and Millers Point, and picnic under the trees in the Tokai Forest: some of the baboons' favourite haunts.

"The locations usually offer people a chance to see some of the area's baboons, but baboons are wild animals," Walker said.

First offenders caught feeding the baboons will be fined R300. The fine is R900 for second offenders. If caught a third time, the offender could be fined R3000 or sent to jail for six months.

Dr Elzette Jordan, the city's baboon expert, said people should not eat near baboons because they can become aggressive and might steal food.

"Remember, baboons can open car doors and climb in through open windows, so lock your car's doors and keep the windows closed," she warned.

"By keeping your distance and being sure not to let them think that you are a source of food, you are giving them a future on the peninsula."

Jordan estimated that there are over 470 baboons roaming the city.

She said one baboon had developed a sugar addiction and was killed when he became aggressive and started raiding homes.

"If you are confronted by a baboon, stay calm, avoid eye contact, speak sternly to it and, most important, drop whatever you have in your hands," Jordan said.

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