With their babies on their backs and youngsters at their sides, two troops of baboons caused a stir when they roamed through a large section of the southern suburbs.

On Monday the troops ventured as far as Soetvlei and Bergvliet to enjoy some of the residents' leftovers and loll about in the sunshine.

The smaller troop, consisting of about five baboons, ventured down Dreyersdal Road into the heart of Bergvliet and to the Sherwood Shopping Centre, where they sat on roofs and raided vegetable gardens and bins.

The larger troop of about 120, which settle in the trees at the Chrysalis Academy at night and sometimes cause havoc on the campus by day, descended into Soetvlei and Tokai for a change of scenery.

Marilyn Lilley, a Bergvliet resident who saw the smaller troop, said they had almost walked along the M3.

"They were going through the gardens and doing what baboons do."

"They were loving the sun and enjoying upmarket leftovers. It was very exciting," she said.

John Green, chairperson of the Wildlife and Environment Society in South Africa, said it was the first time the whole larger troop had moved out of the Tokai area into Soetvlei.

"They live in the Constantiaberg mountains. They get a lot of food out of the pine plantations in summer but in winter they come off the mountains and feed in the lowlands."

He said the baboons had adapted to the suburbs since March and had since been moving through them with ease.

Green urged residents to control their refuse so urban visits would be less attractive.

There are four monitors who shepherd the baboons out of the urban areas, but Green said they needed at least six monitors to walk with the baboons all day and operate effectively.

Anyone wanting to contribute to the monitoring service can send donations to the Friends of Tokai Forest, Box 442, Bergvliet, 7864.

Baboon spottings can be reported to the Chrysalis Academy at 021 712 1023. - Staff Reporter.

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