While most folks know baboons for their famous red behinds, they’re also one of the world’s largest monkeys—with adult males weighing more than 30 kilograms. Unlike most other monkeys, baboons are ground dwellers and prefer the desert-like savannah atmosphere to tropical rainforests.
But because of the ever expanding human influence on these animals’ habitat, baboons have come into close contact with people in recent years, including at South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), which has suffered numerous break-ins by these curious critters.
Like all wild animals, baboons frequent locations that they know provide ready access to food sources. Things got out of hand, though, when one student at NMMU deliberately left food out, waited for a hungry baboon, and struck the animal with the blade of a machete.
After receiving several complaints about students’ malicious treatment of baboons, we fired off a letter to the school’s principal and offered suggestions on how to limit students’ interaction with these animals—without resorting to cruelty.
We are happy to report that our efforts were successful! A little over a month after the first complaints were made, NMMU had covered all its external windows with wire mesh, preventing the baboons from gaining access to the school’s interior. The school also issued warnings to students stating that cruelty to these inquisitive monkeys will not be tolerated.
To keep baboons away from areas where they are unwanted, students must now contain or remove all food sources by storing all garbage in tightly sealed containers located inside locked garages or sheds. Gardens, fruit trees, and compost bins have either been fenced in to keep the baboons out or removed entirely in order to avoid tempting animals looking for food.
It’s been a month since these new measures took effect, and now students can watch the baboons in the animals’ natural habitat without having to worry about missing lunchboxes! This is a shining example of how humans and wildlife can get along.
Posted by Jason Baker