Frequently asked questions

Is leopard/lion scat a good deterrent to keeps baboons away from a property?

Scat has been successful in some areas, however several factors influence the period of success:
• Rain will dilute or wash away the scent.
• Baboons are highly adaptable, and will learn quickly if there is no harmful consequence or danger/fear incident associated to the scat scent, that there is no danger, rendeing scat a temporary short term deterrent.

What other deterrents are effective in keeping baboons away from suburbia?

• Most importantly, disciplined refuse management and compulsory baboon proof bins in affected areas will put them off regular raiding.
• Water pistols or high pressure hoses
• Remove all dog food bowls from outside areas
• Remove bird feeders, sugar bottles and bird feeding tables
• Pick all fruit off fruiting trees immediately it appears to be ripe/almost ripe
• Vegetable and herb gardens will attract baboons

Are baboons aggressive/dangerous?

• Dispersing males may display aggression towards members of the troop or other competing males.
• Injured baboons may indicate aggression if trapped or threatened.
• Females with young may act defensively in a threatening situation.
• Snatching food back from a baboon may provoke an attack.
• Domestic pets trapped or provoked by baboons, may respond aggressively leading to an attack from a baboon.
• Domestic pets have been severely traumatized, injured and some killed by baboons in extreme situations.
• Baboons identify humans in an urban environment as providers of food and will snatch items without fear.

Are baboons strong?

• An adult baboon can weigh up to 40kgs and is well adapted to use its full strength to access food, however inaccessible u think it may be.
• Baboons can lift sliding doors off their tracks, operate any door handle, even round handles, lift large filled garden pots, pull or push large rocks, lift fridges, force garage doors open, smash glass windows, uproot small trees, rip gutters and downpipes off walls and rooves, remove satellite dishes from their anchors, turn water taps on, remove garden hoses from connectors, turn over large heavy garden furniture items, dent car rooves and bonnets, etc.
• Never underestimate the strength of a baboon.

Why don’t the authorities sterilize baboons to control the troop size?

• In a wild natural environment, baboon troop sizes are self-regulated as a consequence of access to and abundance of food within their normal range or expanse of habitat.
• Abundance of high calorie foods, such as human derived foods, will escalate a suburban habituated troop size. This may result in breeding almost every year, rather than every two years as normally occurs in a wild environment.
• Researchers are inclined to suggest birth control, if ever applied, would be better suited to the males of a troop. Females have complex reproductive systems, and hormone manipulation may impact negatively on behavior patterns and hierarchy changes within the troop.

How far does a troop’s normal range extend?

• Usually, in a natural environment, a large troop of 70 may extend to around 25km2, however when access to suburbia is easy, the troop will extend its range to favor easily accessible sugary human derived foods, well beyond their normal range. The Hermanus troop have access to more than 16km2 of pristine nature reserve habitat, but, sadly prefer to venture into the dense suburban areas where human derived food is quick and easy to find.

How long do baboons live for?

• In the wild, around 20 years, however a suburban environment may prove safer from natural predators, and lifespan could extend longer.

How fast can baboons run?

• Running speeds of up to 45kms per hour have been witnessed.

Where do baboons sleep?

• The Hermanus baboons prefer caves in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, but are known to roost in tall tree canopies on the Golf Estate, or in tree canopies in secluded garden areas.

How long is the gestation period for the Chacma baboon?

• 6 months

At what age do females mature re-productively?

• Puberty occurs at 4 to 6 years old

At what age do males reach sexual maturity?

• Around 5 years

Is there a mating season?

• Mating in the troop is non seasonal. The alpha male and other competitive males demonstrate a herding type behavior towards females in oestrus. The bright skin on the rump is known as callosite, which swells during the oestrus cycle of females, signaling reproduction status.

What is infanticide?

• Chacma baboons are known to practice infanticide, where a newly instated alpha male may kill the offspring of his predecessor, to stimulate the females towards oestrus. He will mate with them and thereby establish his own dominance.

How long do mothers feed and protect their infants?

• Infants are weaned from about 8months, but mothers remain protective for about 1 year.

What do baboons eat?

• Being an omnivore, the Chacma baboons of the Western Cape region have a varied diet of fynbos seeds, roots, bulbs, leaves, grasses, small insects and vertebrates. It is a water dependent species. Unfortunately, access to human derived foods can impact negatively on the troop, as a dependency on sugary high energy foods causes behavioral changes.

Why do baboons poop when confronted ?

• Baboons will poop when alarmed or confronted, or when they feel vulnerable. This will occur if they feel trapped inside a property or when being chased away. If possible, it is better to allow free exit from your home with minimum noise and anxiety, to avoid the ‘mess’.

References:

Ingwelala : Web-link

Panthera Big Cat Sanctuary, Stanford : Web-link

Cape Nature : Web-link

Human Wildlife Solutions : Web-link