Brazen baboons have been mugging shoppers

A baboon, perhaps the most brazen in the Western Cape, has taken to ambushing shoppers by leaping off the roof and grabbing their wares as they leave.

The picturesque hamlet of Rooi Els in False Bay has long been occupied by a baboon troop. But it appears that this bunch is blessed with extraordinary cunning - with startling results.

One baboon even appears to enjoy watching women exercise.

"I was doing yoga, the 'cat stretch', on my mat in our lounge when I felt someone watching me," one said. "He was right there, in touching distance. I told him to shoo, but this particular baboon pays absolutely no attention to women. He just sat there."

The simian voyeur only ambled off when the woman's partner, who was cutting vegetables in the kitchen, let fly with a piece of cutlery.

Another family, who regularly lease their home to tourists, had just finished cleaning it and went out. When they returned, the baboons had visited.

Finding the house locked, they had slipped their nails beneath a glass sliding door and lifted it out. After eating, drinking and defecating, they did not exactly leave the place as they found it.

But the most daring of their exploits are at the village's tiny row of shops.

"He sits there and waits for shoppers to come out," said shopkeeper Joe Hensen. "Then, before people can get their goods into their cars, he leaps down and snatches them. He's not old, just a youngster."

Another resident, Chris Burlock, said: "It's not the baboons that are causing the drama, it's some residents who are feeding them.

"And I consider making it possible for them to get into a house, feeding them, too. Experts say half a loaf of bread gives them the same nutrition as a whole day of natural foraging, so the rewards are extremely high.

"Once they've had a successful hit, they will lay siege to it for the next two weeks.

"Baboons need to come down to the coastal plains to feed. It's where the soil is richer; more seeds, fruits, flowers. And where did we build our houses? Right on the coastal plains."

The community was due to discuss the matter on Friday and were investigating having the young rogue darted and taken to a sanctuary in Barrydale.


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