Tim travels to Cape Town in South Africa to cover a neighbourhood dispute of a different kind. On one side, the baboon residents who have been there for a million years … on the other, their human neighbours who are moving in. It all started when people began building on prime land belonging to the local baboons and naturally the primates took it very personally responding with a crime wave of carjackings, muggings and home invasions. This is the real-life version of planet of the apes!
The chacma baboon troops on the Cape peninsula are the only protected population of the species in the world. They mostly subsist on fruits, roots, bulbs, honey, insects and scorpions. During the low tide they may even be seen roaming the beaches, feeding on sand hoppers and shellfish – very unique behaviour for primates.
The Cape Peninsula baboons consist of 11 troops, distributed from the Tokai Forest in the southern suburbs of Cape Town to the famous Cape of Good Hope, which is part of the popular Table Mountain National Park. The groups vary in size from just seven individuals to large gangs of over 100.
The population is under increasing pressure from habitat decline and fragmentation, as well as conflict between humans and baboons, which occurs often.
The baboons frequently get harassed by tourists or tour operators, who throw out food to increase the chance of viewing them, despite road signs warning them not to. Baboons can be dangerous and are, of course, attracted to an easy meal. Visitors should not feed or tease them, because primates that have been conditioned to receive food may have to be eliminated.
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