Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't Feed the Babboons

We had a day trip all over the Cape peninsula. Mick the tour guide did a good job. Although he was from England originally, he'd been here for a long time and knew the area extensively. With his accent and his hat and his sense of humor, I kept getting echoes of Crocodile Dunee. And he'd done his research. He'd visited Mary Ann's website and knew what kinds of photography she was interested in and chose points of interest to match. It was just one day, but we saw scenic vistas, lighthouses, vineyards, ostriches in the wild, whales and penguins. I saw several road signs that warned people to not feed the baboons. I should have expected them, but Mick showed us a statue at the lighthouse which indicated that their numbers were dropping because they were becoming dependent on humans for food.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the visitor center at the Cape of Good Hope nature preserve. The first hint I had was a lady yelling, as if to a dog. When I looked around, there was a baboon heading for us. It hopped up on the table and began grabbing at our plates. We had finished eating, and we grabbed for our stuff, but he was quick and grabbed an empty yogurt container and dashed away into the vegetation. The park people came out shouting at him and brandishing slingshots. The lady said they didn't actually shoot at the baboons, but they were well aware of what slingshots were, and just showing them and snapping the rubber scared them off.

Mick and Mary Ann went to dispose of the rest of our wrappers and I was alone at the picnic table when the baboon returned. Fearless, he approached the table and rummaged through the gravel under the table, looking for any scraps that might have blown off. Soon he left, only to be replaced by a mother and her baby, who went back to that very same spot of gravel to search again. Fearless and persistent. I hope they survive.

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