by Jacqueline Dowling
I thought he was joking when our estate agent told us that his wife had an early morning visit from a baboon. He wasn’t! Apparently he’d gone for run, left a cup of tea and some biscuits beside her and, when she awoke and fumbled drowsily for same, instead of biscuits, she found fur. We should have been warned, but we still bought in the baboon belt and had our own encounters of a spectacularly hairy nature.
The first visit was from a huge male who, having sussed out that our guests breakfasted regularly between 08.00 and 10.00, slipped into the kitchen via the back door, grabbed a tray of eighteen eggs, a loaf of bread and several bananas. He then jumped up onto the kitchen wall, ate the bananas, threw the peels at us and disappeared up the mountain with a tray of eggs under one arm and the bread under the other. Fine, I thought, we’ll keep the back door closed in future. Haha. A few days later I found him in the breakfast room helping himself to my beautifully arranged fruit platter and scones. Fortunately no guests had appeared at that stage and we hurriedly made good the damage.
His next visit was on a wet and miserable Cape winter’s day. He’d somehow found his way back into the kitchen, leaving gross muddy footprints across the tiles, and on the fridge door. After a few minutes he appeared, cautiously peering out from behind the fridge and tried to make a run for it, clutching what he’d raided from its shelves. Desperate, we invited our loyal and loving Rottweiler, Max, into the kitchen during breakfasts and the visits ceased: until the day our daughter, watching East Enders put out her hand to stroke what she thought was Max and found a baboon sitting very quietly, just behind her, equally engrossed in the programme.
By this stage we were growing a tad weary of the regular visits and installed trelliguards on doors and windows. This worked for a bit, but the troop seemed to have uber sensitive sensors and sent their young in to do the raids, pass the loot out to the adults and depart. On one occasion I found a young female sitting on the kitchen counter with the telephone in one hand and a jar of sugar in the other. She escaped to our neighbour’s garden, ate the sugar and left the jar under a tree. Neighbour kindly returned it, washed and with the lid firmly in place.
That was four years ago. Since then we’ve had the excellent services of the baboon monitors who manage to keep their charges well away from the houses, and seem to have an unusual empathy with the animals. So it is with great sadness and a certain lack of understanding, that we heard recently that they are being stood down at the end of the month. Will the hairy encounters resume? Time will tell.
Photograph courtesy of http://www.hackingfamily.com