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Men and Baboons Could Cease to Co-Exist in Cape Town

Apr 25, 2016 12:35 PM EDT
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Baboons are known to co-exist with humans in Cape Town. But over the years, they have become more and more aggressive when foraging for food. There are reports that they are resorting to harmful behavior against humans, in order to get more food. Because of these behaviors, authorities have been forced to limit their harmful activities by creating a device to isolate the baboons from the humans. And others construe this as the end of man and baboon's harmonic co-existence.

It looks like after years of co-existing, the relationship between men and baboons are about to hit a halt in Cape Town, South Africa. According to a recent article by the National Geographic, they said that they are no longer getting along.

Baboons feed on fruits, root crops, honey, insects and scorpions. They also look for food along beach shores. But for years, they have also become accustomed to taking food from humans. It's an easier alternative to scouting for food. National Geographic said they have become opportunists. They thrive by scavenging for food near houses, waste baskets, shops and through people themselves.

"Baboons are extremely opportunistic and have learned that residential houses neighboring the protected area are an easy foraging source." Johan van der Merwe, Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, said in an interview with a local station. Because of this, they now exhibit harmful behavior and animosity towards humans in possession of food.

In this video produced by an Australian organization, they capture how baboons behave when it comes to men and food. One person even said that "they are literally criminals on four legs".

To answer the problem, the local government has activated a virtual fence in Gordon's Bay. It is part of the baboon management strategy by the government.

News24 said that after the fence was installed earlier this year, there are no more troops of baboons entering the town.

But there is no actual fence structure. Johan further described the "virtual fence," saying that once troops of baboons enter the protected zone in an attempt to enter the urban areas, speakers emit noises mimicking predators such as lions, urging the baboons to retreat. News24 further added, "The virtual fence then became a virtual boundary zone in the minds of the baboon troop and ultimately resulted in the animals staying out of the town."

Van der Merwe said that they are convinced with the success of the fence. Although he assured the public that even without access to urban areas, the baboons still have an ample amount of areas to look for food. However, the fence has also created a divide between men and baboons. Will they cease to co-exist?

If the baboon behavior towards humans will not improve, the virtual divide between them and humans will continue to exist. Conservationists should think of a way to provide ample food for baboons so that their wild instinct may be tamed. But as animals, it is not an assurance that if food is provided, they will start to behave.

For now, the virtual fence will continue creating a gap between men and baboons, and for them to live peacefully, men and baboons will have to exist in separate territories divided by distance.

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