Monday, June 14, 2004

Why I moved to Wisconsin!

Offbeat - AFP

Baboons on rampage in South African town

Mon Jun 14,11:41 AM ET Add Offbeat - AFP to My Yahoo!

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Residents of a small South African coastal town are threatening to declare all-out war on baboons who have terrorised pre-schoolers, raided homes for food and urinated on clothes after pulling them out of closets.

Diana Head, the chairwoman of the local taxpayers' association in Pringle Bay, an hour's drive east of Cape Town, told AFP Monday that baboons broke into the local nursery school -- located in a church -- three times, using the same method.

"The baboons lifted a window latch and stormed a church hall where the children were," she said. "They grabbed sandwiches and cold drinks out of the children's hands.

"The kids were traumatised afterwards. One teacher was so upset that she resigned."

Head said baboons were breaking into houses about 15 times a month on average.

"They have strong nails which they use to pull sliding doors off the hinges. When they get inside the houses they ransack the cupboard for food and have parties on the beds.

"On a few occasions they have pulled clothes out of the cupboards and urinated on them."

Last week two female baboons in the area had to be put down after they were found with bullet wounds in their stomachs.

Local conservation officials said they believed the shootings were revenge attacks by residents.

Head said the problem escalated late last year when the head male in the baboon troop changed.

"An alpha male who we named Charlie kept the troop under control but then he was replaced by a newcomer known to us as Stoffel," she said.

The taxpayers' association approached the municipality about employing baboon chasers, but were told that this would increase baboon stress levels.

"If nothing is done about this problem, more people are going to start taking the law into their own hands," Head said.

Local official Craig Spencer told the Cape Times newspaper that the town did not have the authority to intervene, adding that the municipality had hired a nature conservation student to manage the baboons and printed pamphlets on how to keep baboons at bay.

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