Monday, February 7, 2011

Beware Wild Animals

Daily, many visitors - foreign or local - arrive at Cape Point (at the "tip" of the Cape Peninsula /Cape of Good Hope) mostly to enjoy the magnificent scenery. Although mainly known as a Nature Reserve, certain wild animals do move around freely in this park, including Chacma baboons - who appear tame, in stark contrast to what the warning sign proclaims!

When many visitors ignore such warnings, they "suffer" as a result - if they are lucky, they don't get hurt in the process, but often, their food gets stolen.

Through the years & after actually being "fed" by visitors, which these days is totally prohibited, the Cape-Peninsula-baboons have "learnt a trick or 2" - if they smell food, they "attack", meaning they have learned to become thieves - other than "remaining" dangerous. This is rather tragic, because it means that these wild animals have become dependent on food they steal from humans, instead of surviving "naturally" in the wild.

Not only did these baboons learn to steal, but also how to "outwit" human guards, who are specifically employed to keep the visitors safe = to chase away any "annoying" baboons. From a vantage-point, this female baboon, cuddling a youngster, has a good look around: where are the guards - or who could be her (next) unsuspecting victim?

About that trick or 2 the baboons have learned through the years: if the guards are elsewhere "occupied" or not enough visitors carrying food are around, there's another option - "raiding" a rubbish bin, actually designed for the sole purpose of preventing this! Now who would have thought that supposedly primitive primates can "work out" how such an otherwise clever design functions?

Unfortunately the Cape Peninsula isn't the only area, where baboons have learned to steal - this thief "posed innocently" in the Tsitsikamma National Park after raiding the grocery stock of visitors, who hadn't closed the door of their chalet.

However baboons (other than humans!!) aren't the only primates, who tend to steal food. This Vervet monkey managed to get hold of food from a table at an outside restaurant in Sun City (Northwest province).

And what about this Vervet monkey appearing to "adopt" the role of a waiter? In actual fact it's examining the contents of a table setting for "available" food at the Skukuza Camp in the Kruger National Park.

Looking rather innocent - even cute - this monkey's behaviour is part of a "learning process", which doesn't bode well for natural survival in the wilderness.

And what about this monkey youngster watching "procedures" - is it busy "memorising" how to become a thief in the near future?

No comments: