Dogs and Baboons – The Importance of Cultivating Friendly Relationships with your Neighbours

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BABOONS AND DOGS – DOGS ATTACK, BABOONS DEFEND 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING FRIENDLY RELATIONS WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS – BOTH HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN

For years I’ve lived harmoniously with dogs, cats, monkeys and baboons. I’ve shared my “territory” with six different raiding baboon troops in various parts of South Africa forcing me to find ways to live in peace with these animals while finding the peace of mind needed to know the dogs and cats that lived with me would be safe.

The wild resident baboon troops have always shown respect for the animals that live with me, including the free-roaming rescued,  vervet monkeys that lived in the forest around my home. The video at the end of this post shows how three different primate species lived peacefully together. This is merely one example taken from a time in my life when I was rehabilitating injured and orphaned vervet monkeys.

I’m no different to anyone else; I love the dogs, cats and monkeys in my care and the idea of a baboon attacking any of them is abhorrent.
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One day when the wild resident baboon troop arrived, this adult female looked at me, then presented (a friendly and respectful gesture in this context) to my cat.

BABOONS/MONKEY RELY ON RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS – WITHIN THE TROOP AS WELL AS WITH THEIR HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN NEIGHBOURS:

If you’re concerned about the animals in your care, it is important to show respect for the baboons and/or monkeys that wander onto your property so that they will offer you the same behaviour. This certainly does not mean allowing them to cross boundaries; we can show them they are not welcome to take our food while showing them that we can be trusted not to harm them.

THE BABOONS/MONKEYS AROUND YOUR HOME ASSOCIATE THE ANIMALS IN YOUR CARE WITH YOU.

Be aware that a wild primate troop in the area has established a relationship with you over time – whether you are conscious of this or not – and the animals associated with you.

Baboons are generally exceptionally tolerant of dogs chasing them and may even play with them. However, they discern between dogs that chase for harmless reasons and dogs that are a serious threat to the members of the troop – particularly the babies.

Sometimes residents have dogs that are particularly vicious towards intruders – it may be the breed or the manner in which the dog was trained and this could create a problem with baboons whereby the baboons are forced to defend themselves against your dog, but this is not the only reason for dogs being attacked. The first question I ask when a resident tells me their dog was attacked by a baboon is: what is your relationship with the baboons – have you ever killed a baby or other troop member?

Your attitude towards the wild resident baboon troop that enters your property may be the reason behind the baboons attacking your dog.037

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The juveniles in the wild troop were particularly interested in forming friendships with my cats. 

 

BUT WON’T A BABOON GET VENGEFUL IF I CHASE THE TROOP AWAY FROM MY VEGETABLE GARDEN?

NO.

Baboon/monkey troops understand your need to protect your property. If you shoot one of their troop members while chasing them away from your vegetable garden, you may well create a problem in your relationship with them but if you adopt non-lethal deterrents, this will be understood and accepted.

HOW CAN I SHOW THE BABOONS I RESPECT THEM WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY SHOWING THAT THEY MAY NOT RAID MY PROPERTY?

    ADOPT NON-LETHAL METHODS TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH BABOONS/MONKEYS. Methods on how to live peacefully can be found on this site and are looked at in our video presentation above.
  1. TRAIN YOUR DOG NOT TO CHASE THEM: Some dogs are difficult to train and may not listen but the fact that YOU are showing them that you don’t approve of your dog chasing them shows them you care about their welfare.As mentioned previously, baboons are exceptionally tolerant of dogs chasing them generally but when forced to defend themselves against attack, the interaction may turn violent.

The goal is to establish a friendly relationship with your wild primate neighbours while consistently making sure they know they can’t take food from your property in a way that does not threaten their lives.

Because we live in a human world, we rarely get to see the extent that wild animals are killed by dogs:
serval dead dogsServal kitten killed by dogs

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Monkey killed by dogs

BABOONS AND DOGS – WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BABOONS

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Given that no other animal on earth (besides humans) drinks milk after being weaned, it is bizarre that farmers complain of baboons stealing milk from dairy cows. More and more humans are accepting that milk is an unnatural food source that is often the cause of allergies. Why would a wild primate want milk from a domestic cow?  

 

“Unlike dogs and cats, baboons are not natural carnivores and they do not have adaptations for hunting and eating meat.” Those of us who live in the world of wild primates are all too familiar with the common misconceptions that abound.

 So, why do farmers still claim, “baboons attack livestock to get milk”, or to eat.  Firstly, it is a common mistake for farmers to blame primates for crimes they didn’t commit because primates are diurnal hence farmers see them often while the real culprits – true predators – generally attack at night. To get some perspective on how distorted this misconception is, one can Google: “baboons attacking livestock”. We welcome any photographic information that challenges this view.

 

 

Below are some things we’ve heard people say about baboons in South Africa….and some answers based on current scientific knowledge.


Look at those long teeth – they must be for hunting prey.

Unlike dogs and cats, baboons are not natural carnivores and they do not have adaptations for hunting and eating meat. The long canine teeth you see on a male baboon are instead adaptations for male-male competition; males use these teeth to fight with other males and gain access to females. More commonly, males do not even have to use their teeth: they simply display them to other males in an open-mouthed threat or yawn, which serves as a signal to other males to stay away.

Baboons do occasionally hunt and eat small animals such as hares and lizards, but such foods comprise only a very small portion of their diet, which includes virtually everything (i.e., they are ‘omnivores’).  For more on baboon diets, see the Baboon Ecology page.

Also keep in mind that there are other animals, such as cats, snakes, and raptors, that habitually prey on birds, birds’ eggs, and other small animals. These animals, unlike baboons, are natural predators and are much better than baboons at locating and catching prey.

 


Look at those long teeth – I’d better watch out!

Baboons are not natural predators and thus would not normally attack a human unless threatened in some way. Examples of this would be if a baboon is made to feel trapped (e.g., inside a house with no escape route), if a person tries to take something away from a baboon (e.g., food), or if a person gets between an adult baboon and its infant. A baboon may also feel threatened if you look at it directly in the eyes, as baboons use direct eye contact to threaten one another.

 


Look at those long teeth – he’s out to get my pet!

A baboon will not normally attack a dog or cat unless it feels threatened in some way.  For example, a baboon may react aggressively if the dog lunges at or attacks the baboon, if the dog gets between an adult baboon and its infant, or if the baboon is made to feel trapped (e.g., inside a house with no escape route).  With small dogs and cats, it is possible that the baboon may perceive it as prey – as baboons do sometimes hunt and eat small mammals such as hares and small antelope. So, best to keep your pets away from baboons.  For more information, see the Baboons and Dogspage.

 


We see more baboons around, so their population size must be increasing.

In greatest likelihood, you see more baboons around you because the baboons in the area where you live are (a) gradually losing their fear of humans while (b) discovering how easy it is to gain access to human foods. These are psychological and behavioural changes in the baboons as a response to their interactions with humans. The baboons have formed a mental association between humans and easily-acquired food and have learned that they need not fear humans but can instead get food from them! This occurs because some people (particularly tourists) feed baboons and the baboons that do raid are not being stopped from doing so. Over time, the baboons will spend more and more of their time near people awaiting a free meal unless they learn that those free meals are no longer available.

As a result of these changes, we see the baboons around more often and naturally come to the conclusion that there are more of them in the population. The most likely scenario, however, is that there are just more of them near us because that’s where they get the best food!

Note: for some basic information on how fast baboons reproduce, see the Baboon Reproduction page.

 


Baboons are becoming bolder and more aggressive.

Baboons are not naturally aggressive towards humans and will usually only show aggression if you trap them or try to take something away from them. Baboons are wild animals and, like most wild animals, are naturally afraid of humans! The increased aggression and boldness of baboons that we perceive simply reflects a decreased fear of humans combined with an increased opportunity for free food. As stated above, these are psychological and behavioural changes occurring in the baboons themselves as they learn that humans are a source of easily-acquired food at the same time that they discover that there is no reason to fear humans. if humans and baboons are to co-exist peacefully then we must try to reverse or at least slow down this process as much as possible. To do this, we must (1) remove these opportunities for free food (i.e., decrease the attractants) and (2) increase the baboons’ fear of humans (i.e., use effective deterrents and never feed or approach baboons!).  For more information, see the Causes of Commensalism page.

 


Baboons are competing with humans for territory.

A territory is an area that animals defend against other members of their own species. Unlike many other primates, such as chimpanzees for example, baboons are NOT territorial. Rather, each baboon troop occupies a ‘home range’, part of which overlaps with the home range of other troops. Usually different troops avoid using these overlapping areas at the same time, and troops and home ranges shift fluidly in accordance with one another. (Thus, if humans encroach upon the home range of one troop, this can affect that troop’s relationship with other troops as well as the home ranges of all other troops in the area.) When baboon troops fight, it is usually over a food resource, over a sleeping site, or it is related to male-male competition over females and/or attempted infanticide – it is not over territories.

Baboons are opportunistic and will take food from our properties if it is available. This will occur whether or not our property is (or was) within the home range of that troop. We may think that we can keep baboons away by ‘showing them’ that this is ‘our’ territory. This is pointless, as a baboon couldn’t care less whose territory it is – it just wants the food!

Expanding human populations results in increased overlap between baboons and humans. This, combined with the natural flexibility of baboons, means that instead of ‘moving out’ of their original home range or simply dying off, a baboon troop may instead simply adapt its behaviour to this increased contact. As baboons lose their fear of humans (sometimes as a result of interactions with tourists and/or deliberate provisioning of baboons by humans), they become more and more willing to exploit the human-derived food resources they see as readily available to them and they start helping themselves to the food they find in gardens, homes, and cars with little or no regard for the humans who may be nearby.

For more information on keeping baboons out of “your” territory, see the Baboons and Your Property page.

 


Baboons mark their territories, and we can ‘fight back’ by marking ours.

Many animals mark their territories with urine or other bodily fluids, leaving a scent that is detectable by other animals. Baboons do not do this. There are two issues to consider here:

1. Baboons are not territorial (see above).

2. In the monkey and ape species that are territorial, vocalizations are used most often to defend territories, NOT scent-marking.

All monkeys and apes, like humans, use visual and vocal communication far more than the sense of smell. Monkeys and apes do not have the rhinarium (wet nose) that dogs and cats have, and without this feature they have to get very close to something to smell it. Many people assume that baboons have a keen sense of smell because of their dog-like face, but in fact their sense of smell is not very different from our own!

 


Lone baboon males are ‘rogue males’ that have been rejected by their troop and are out to cause trouble.

Male baboons typically leave the troops in which they were born and move into new troops to reproduce. Some males do this two or more times during their lifetime. This process of group transfer, called dispersal, may start when a male is a young subadult (i.e., not yet full body size, canine teeth not yet fully developed), at which point he may leave his natal troop and join other troops on a temporary basis while he decides which troop to ultimately immigrate into. We thus sometimes see male baboons wandering around alone during this dispersal process, which may last several months or more.  For more information about dispersal in baboons, see the Dispersal and Philopatry page.

Unfortunately, some of these dispersing males do ‘get into trouble,’ as it is much easier for a lone male baboon to slip into the urban area and enter buildings looking for food without being seen than for an entire troop to do so! These males are often viewed as ‘sneaky’ because they enter buildings silently. This probably has nothing to do with the baboon deliberately trying to hide from humans. Rather, it is likely because the baboon is alone, surrounded by members of another species that he is naturally afraid of, and without any other baboons around to communicate with!

Also unfortunate is the situation in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa where dispersing males often end up stuck in urban areas because they are trying to disperse across them – but there is simply too much urban sprawl in the way for them to be able to reach new troops.

 


The alpha male baboon leads the troop.

Baboon troops are held together by kinship bonds among related females, who typically stay their entire lives in the troop in which they were born. These females are organized into matrilines, with each female that is born ranking in a dominance hierarchy just below her mother. The oldest females in the troop are the ‘matriarchs’, and they have been in the troop the longest and have acquired the most knowledge. Male baboons, by contrast, leave their natal troops and disperse to new troops one or more times in their lives. Males fight for dominance amongst themselves, and there is invariably an ‘alpha male’ of the troop, but his alpha status may be short-lived and he may not have been in the troop for very long. Thus it is the females, especially the oldest females, that hold the troop together, that know the most about local resources, and that probably contribute the most to the troop’s movement patterns.  For more information on kinship bonds and sociality in baboons, see the Baboon Sociality page.

 


Content on this page contributed by:
Larissa Swedell
Julian Saunders
Thanks to the following reviewers for improving this page:
Dr. Jessica Rothman
Dr. Angela van Doorn
Dr. Janette Wallis
Dr. Kirsten Wimberger

Please credit this website for any and all use of this material.

BABOONS AND CONSERVATION

 

This info has been taken from the following site: http://www.imfene.org/baboons-and-dogs

When baboons live near humans, they naturally come into regular contact with the pets of humans, including dogs. Sometimes interactions between baboons and dogs turn nasty and one of the animals involved – dog or baboon – ends up getting hurt. Contrary to popular belief, baboons have no reason to hurt dogs unless dogs are a threat to them, nor are baboons ‘territorial’ with dogs. Dogs defend territories; baboons do not. In fact, baboons have been observed grooming and playing with dogs that they are familiar with.  However, bear in mind that dogs are domesticated whereas baboons are wild animals and are thus unpredictable in their behaviour.

More often than not, when dogs get hurt by baboons, this results from fights started by dogs or when an owner has told the dog to go after the baboon. Usually the initial reaction of a baboon to a dog is to run away or to simply ignore the dog. However, if a dog threatens or attacks a baboon, perhaps because it sees the baboon as a threat to itself or its owner, the baboon will likely respond with aggression simply to protect itself.  Dog owners should be aware of this and avoid contact between dogs and baboons as much as possible.

Baboons and dogs may have playful intentions toward each other when they meet, but one can never be sure about the intentions of animals and we thus cannot predict what such interactions may lead to. Pet owners should take precautions to prevent conflicts between baboons and dogs by preventing them from interacting in the first place.

One other note: while baboons are not carnivores and are not natural predators, they do sometimes kill and eat small animals such as hares, small antelope, or lizards. Thus, while we do not know of any such instances, do keep in mind that a very small dog may possibly be viewed by a baboon as a potential meal.

 

Solution: Keep Dogs Away from Baboons

Whenever possible, try to prevent any interaction between dogs and baboons.

 

In Baboon Territory:

  • Do not walk dogs in areas where you know baboons reside. There are often laws forbidding dog-walking in park areas where baboons live; these laws exist for a reason and it is best for both the safety of dogs and baboons to follow such rules.
  • If you must walk your dog in areas where baboons reside, at least keep the dog on a leash at all times.
  • If your dog ever runs off and chases or attacks a baboon, call your dog off immediately before the fight escalates.  Always have a leash with you to put on your dog if necessary.

On Your Own Property:

  • If baboons come onto your property, keep your dogs inside the house.  If they are outside, call them in.
  • Do not send your dog to chase away baboons, as this will very likely result in injury to one or both animals. Such fights have been known to result in death of one of the animals involved.


Content on this page contributed by:
Shahrina Chowdhury

 

Content on this page reviewed by:
Julian Saunders
Larissa Swedell
Kirsten Wimberger
Crista Johnson

Please credit this website for any and all use of this material.

Monkey Mayhem

nohandPhoto: Emma Rose

A transient male – who had his whole hand ripped off by another male – making his way into an urban troop in Umhlanga Rocks. Transient males suffer abnormal, serious injuries when competing for resources in areas where their natural habitat has been encroached on by human development. These monkeys have no option but to turn to humans to survive. The obvious solution to this problem would be protective legislation that is actively enforced, as opposed to the current nature conservation laws which allow these species to be persecuted with a range of extremely cruel consequences.

WHEN BABOONS/MONKEYS ARE RAIDING YOUR HOME.
The first question to ask yourself when you feel that your wild neighbors are crossing boundaries, entering your property or home and taking what you feel should belong to you, is “what is attracting these baboons/monkeys here?”
Once you have discovered whether it is an exotic fruit tree, your compost heap, black garbage bag or the fruit bowl left on your kitchen table, you then have the choice to remove the attraction. The answer to avoid having your property raided by baboons/monkeys is really as simple as that.
While it is true that a troop will check out your property if your neighbor if feeding them, this should not pose a problem if your property consistently offers no attraction as the troop will move on quickly after repeatedly learning that hanging around your property is a waste of valuable time.
The choice only becomes complicated when residents feel that practicing tolerance and erecting baboon/monkey proof deterrents is an inconvenience. However, those of us who do this are offered the privilege of living with these wild primates in a harmonious way.

HOW HUMANS ARE DAMAGING TROOP STRUCTURES:
It is mostly the males in baboon troops that are targeted by humans which causes a skew in the male/female ratio that impacts on all that is reliant on this. One mistake we make, when understanding the way in which we contribute to the dysfunction of healthy troop structures is to assume that only the physical impact matters. To ignore the complex psychological components necessary for wild primate species that are based on social relationships, is to deny a crucial element that is integral to a healthy bio-diversity. An example is to make the mistake of assuming that our baboon populations are healthy simply because we see “lots” of individuals in a troop. The correct manner to assess the health of a baboon or monkey troop is to observe the ratio of adult males to females and then to note this in relation to the sub adults, juveniles and infants. A healthy baboon troop will have one adult male to three or four adult females. Male baboons enter sub-adulthood at about 6 years old and become adult at the age of ten, while females are sexually mature around the age of five years old. On average a male baboon will leave his troop for the first time around the age of seven years and is considered to be a sub-adult at this age as opposed to an adult male.

THE SINGLE MALE THAT RAIDS YOUR PROPERTY:
Residents who come across single male baboons or monkeys on their property often mistake them to be “rogue” males. There are a couple of reasons why you may find a single male baboon on your property but the most common one is that these males are young teenagers who may have left their troops to find a new one for the very first time. Males generally leave their troops to find new troops about five times in their lives. These single males are correctly termed “transient” or “dispersing” males. It can take months for these males to integrate into a new troop and during this vulnerable stage of solitude, they may well resort to relying on humans for easy food sources. This is a temporary stage. It’s important for us to be patient until these single males have integrated into new troops and once this has occurred they will follow the new group’s lead.

Pubescent primate males dispersing into new troops do not only face a temporary time of physical challenge but also one of psychological challenge; for pubescent males, these necessary lessons bring a physical and psychological strength that is not only needed for the individual but the whole troop in the future. With all the added unnatural risks these males face due to human intervention, they sometimes ironically seek protection in human areas where they have been led to believe they may find it due to humans feeding them by hand. Puberty is a time of exploration and learning for these young males who have yet to grasp the full maturity needed when adult. As sub-adults, they are also more likely to be naïve about the dangers humans present.

These young males, having left the protection and guidance of their birth group are tested for the first time in many ways. Without the protection of the group, they are exposed to predators and other difficult elements of the wilderness. Not only are they at risk from predators but their new troop is likely to be hostile until the individual has formed bonds – this can take a few months.

Sometimes these males are not accepted at all. This is especially true in areas where baboon populations have been severely damaged by human intervention, causing destruction to the fragile social system required for a healthy cohesive group.

Human areas full of abundant unnatural food sources that also have a scarcity of threatening predators are an obvious attraction for wild primates suffering undue risks. But as these primates have a strong understanding of territorial boundaries, it is the mixed messages that humans themselves give that allow these species to assume they are welcome. As the male is left without troop guidance, he may resort to the temptation of new food sources and enter onto human properties where he will at first be respectful of the territorial boundaries but once invited in, will push those boundaries and attempt to raid.

Dispersing males are alone; without grooming partners that contribute to their physical and mental health that generally keep parasite infestation at bay.

Robert Sapolsky – primatologist and neurologist – observed that during this period, the accumulated stress in transient males contributes to parasite infestation as the immune system becomes relatively weak. Once the individual joins a group, his health balances out again.
This once again illustrates how fragile a period this is for dispersing males.

BABOON BEHAVIOUR IN THE CAPE PENINSULA:
In the Cape Peninsula, dispersing male baboons are unable to reach new troops as development has cut them off from doing so. Although the “bad” behavior of these baboons is highly publicized, it needs to be recognized that their behavior does not represent the behavior of baboons in other parts of Southern Africa. Their behavior is a result of being cut off by human development, being forced to compete with humans for resources and being fed by hand. Unfortunately, due to ignorance, the pucli all too often buys the sensationalist view presented by the media and not only exaggerates the negative behavior of the Cape Peninsula baboons but also gives the public the false impression that this behavior is the norm for baboons everywhere.

WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO TO CO-EXIST HARMONIOUSLY WITH BABOONS/MONKEYS?
Residents need to practice consistency in their approach to demonstrate that it is unacceptable for wild primates to enter their properties. It also helps to have baboon/monkey proof homes and to ensure that no attractions – especially garbage – are on display. Please see our information on how to co-exist with wild primates. In special cases, alternative foraging sites can be used if done correctly (see our information on how to do this responsibly.
In time, with the resident’s patience, tolerance and understanding, the transient male will move on into his new group and if he has learnt worthwhile lessons (not to push territorial boundaries) from his human neighbors, he will carry these lessons with him. In this way residents can contribute to the future of healthy monkey and baboon troops.seed disperser

WHEN MONKEYS/BABOONS ARE RAIDING YOUR PROPERTY:
Vervet monkeys or Chacma baboons might visit your home regularly because you are on their foraging path. They will search for food in your garden and unfortunately, sometimes in your home. Many wild primates are being pressurized by development, and are genuinely hungry because they have lost their natural food source in a short space of time. However, some tend to forage in houses for food,
because the food found there represents the same nutritional value as a whole day’s worth of foraging and offers an easier solution, especially for those faced with excessive survival challenges in the wild.

Many people cannot resist the temptation of feeding wild primates, and in spite of legislation, education and signage, humans still feed which helps when done responsibly and creates problems when done irresponsibly.

It is important for us to acknowledge that there are also people who feed them for the wrong reasons – to lure them for the capture of their babies for the pet trade or to injure or kill them.

It is for this reason that we request that if you feed monkeys or baboons to deter them from raiding your home or to help them obtain food they can no longer get in their damaged natural environment that you do so in a responsible way.

HOW TO FEED RESPONSIBLY:

The photo below shows primates in a sanctuary utilising a home made seed disperser. This method could also be used to keep a single wild male baboon distracted from raiding your home if the following guidelines are used. It is however, better to use an old strong bucket or buoy rather than a road cone.

HOME MADE WILD BABOON DISPERSER MADE FROM OLD BUOY
For the single male raider.

SUPPLEMENTARY FOODS FOR VERVET MONKEYS and CHACMA BABOONS:
The concept of Feeding Stations is a sensitive issue as Nature Conservation authorities are pressed by certain sectors of society to reject this option because of the enormous amount of damage that has been caused to wild primates due to people feeding these animals incorrectly (by hand) until the primates learn to generalise about humans, and assume they can enter human areas and take foods from residents.

Because feeding these animals has caused so much disruption between residents and wild primates, it is illegal to feed baboons/monkeys in some areas in South Africa. However, when feeding stations are established correctly it has been proved to offer a workable solution to the problem of raiding. As far as the legal aspects are concerned, feeding by hand is certainly disruptive and against the law. A feeding station similar to a bird feeder, whereby humans are not associated with the food is no different to displaying an exotic fruit tree in your garden. Residents who feed wild animals in spite of being warned not to, and in spite of the laws that discourage this practice, are encouraged to rather do it according to responsible guidelines.

WHY FEEDING STATIONS?
However much we would like to believe that it is natural behaviour for wild primates to eat natural foods that grow far from human built up areas, the fact remains that we have encroached on their ancient habitats, created habitat loss and ensured a situation whereby we now are forced to co-exist with wild animals in many of the areas we have taken over.

Monkeys and Baboons are highly adaptive and adapt their behaviour to the environment they find themselves in. When a human environment has been forced on them, they simply learn to adapt to it, hence the raiding of human food they find placed along their ancient foraging paths. Our gardens are often full of exotic fruits, vegetable gardens, compost heaps and garbage dumps which not only offer a quick tasty food source but if we don’t protect these food sources and actively show wild animals they have no right to come close right from the very beginning they start to work out a relationship with us, they will assume we are inviting them to help themselves.

WHAT DOES A FEEDING STATION DO?
A feeding station is established in a way that keeps the wild primates away from our homes yet offers these wild animals an alternative food source.

Feeding stations do NOT create a new unnatural food source as is often argued. They replace the unnatural food sources that residents are already providing. (exotic fruit, vegetables compost, good food, bird seeds etc.

PRIMATES AFRICA in KZN is an organisation that has done extensive research – spanning at least a decade – into the establishment of feeding stations in areas where human homes were regularly raided by vervet monkeys.

They found that when done correctly;
–        Feeding stations were only utilised by the monkeys at times of the year when their natural food sources were very low and the monkeys went back to feeding in the wild when natural foods were available.
–        Populations did not increase due to the supplementary feeding.
–        The erection of feeding stations ensured a great decrease in raiding amongst the vervets.

DON’TS
The first golden rule is never to allow the monkeys to associate humans with food. If they do, they will think all humans are friendly and will be in serious danger from hunters and animal abusers. With time, they could expect you to give them food, and when it is not forthcoming, they can demand it from you by jumping up, or even raising eyebrows in a threatening manner. They are very unlikely to attack, but they will frighten people who are not familiar with them, thus endangering their own lives.

Never feed monkeys or baboons by hand. Monkeys are so graceful when they take food from your hand, but, unfortunately, they will also think its OK to take food from little children who are not offering them food. The child could refuse to release the food, thus resulting in a tussle between child and monkey where the monkey might nip the child to force the child to release. Monkeys are at an even greater
risk from abusers if they trust people to the extent that they will take food from their hand.

DO’S
Correct quantities of food. If you are feeding monkeys and they arrive Every day at about the same time for their food or play around waiting for their food, you are making them dependant on the food you are providing. While waiting, they can annoy neighbours and could become a problem to you or your neighbours if no food is put out. In this case, we suggest that you reduce the quantity of food, gradually, until they come and check but no longer wait. You will find that the correct quantity put out for a troop, will approximate a generous bird
feeder. They will appreciate your offerings, but move on to forage in the natural way.

Please ensure that the feeding site is placed away from your house and the neighbours house. If you feel that they might require more food than you are offering because their habitat is destroyed or there is a drought etc. then encourage other people in your neighbourhood to do the same. The monkeys will soon learn which gardens can be visited and which gardens to avoid and will not ‘camp’ at any particular site. Quantities can be varied at different times of the year, but ensure that any variation is a gradual process

ESTABLISH SECURE FEEDING AREAS.

There are 2 types – artificial feeding sites for short term provisioning and natural feeding sites for long term
provisioning.

Artificial feeding sites. After development of an area, the natural food available to monkeys and baboons can be significantly reduced, causing regular intrusion into houses for food. This problem can be alleviated by the community, by establishing a community feeding station or stations. Feeding stations are also useful for residents living near natural bush who experience problems with monkeys during winter.

A small amount of food can be placed in, preferably, two or three secure sites, away from homes and in natural areas. The reason it is necessary to have a few sites erected for one troop is because wild primates eat according to a strict hierarchy and on feeding station will only allow those at the top to eat, causing the rest of the troop to go hungry. Try to ensure that each site is out of sight of the others so that high ranking individuals do not hog the whole lot.

These sites must be carefully chosen, as they must not be on the boundary of the territories of 2 troops (this causes inter-troop aggression which is more likely amongst the more territorial vervet than the chacma.) and must not be in areas vulnerable to hunters or people who will eat or poison their food.

The food placed at these sites should be similar to the food placed at birdfeeders in gardens. We suggest that there be at least 4 people participating in the provisioning, so as not to make the task onerous and allow for people going away on vacation or relocation. The food provided must be sustainable, economically, so ensure that the food put out is not too expensive.

Donations cannot be relied on. Suggested food: nuts, pumpkin, gem and butternut seeds for protein, brown bread, dried mielies or crushed mielies, sunflower seeds for seed starch and protein, yellow vegetables, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit and peels of vegetables or fruit for vitamins, starch and sugar.

NATURAL FEEDING SITES.
It is possible to encourage monkeys away from houses by planting indigenous feeding trees and exotic fruit trees, such
as paw paw’s, mangos etc. in the correct areas. This is important for the long term well-being of the monkeys. Preferably trees must be planted away from your house or neighbours’ houses and, if possible, form a continuous avenue of trees for the monkeys to move through. Any natural areas in your neighbourhood should be planted up with indigenous feeding trees. These could become nesting and feeding areas for monkeys away from houses

What to do in Urban Monkey Land

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“We see things as they are, not as we are”; an Anais Nin quote that knocks on the door of my mind repeatedly when I am in the company of wild monkeys or baboons. Observing these related primates close-up raises questions about the human-wildlife relationship that cannot be avoided. Since moving to Kwa-Zulu-Natal, this has again been brought into sharp focus.

It’s different here.

I’ve spent the last fourteen years on the border of the Tstisikamma National Park where wild primates have the choice to seek food in human areas or stick to the wilder places. In Umhlanga Rocks, although I have not been observing the monkeys for too long, the fact that they have little choice but to turn to humans to survive cannot be avoided. Severe injuries are common as troop compete in developed urban areas – seeking food from the few residents who are prepared to offer it.

It is commonly believed that monkeys in KZN are “over populated” and yet from their perspective, it is humans who have encroached on their natural habitat, taken their wild choices away and then blamed them for daring to get food from human areas.

The question facing us is what to do in order to save these primates from further persecution?

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Monkeys in Umhlanga Rocks – breaking down misconceptions

Monkeys and Humans

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Paintings by Karin Saks - B.A.F.A.

LINK TO PRESENTATION – CLICK BELOW:

Harmonious Co-existence between Humans and Baboons/Monkeys

We’ve altered their lives drastically by encroaching on their territory. We’ve destroyed habitats and have severely damaged troop structures.

This presentation (click on the link above) is for residents who would like to co-exist peacefully with the baboons and/or monkeys around their homes.My neighboring baboons - BEHAVIOUR and power struggles.

Humans and Wild Animals- Peaceful Co-existence

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Before our ancestors arrived, the Khoi-San co-existed with wild animals peacefully. Although much has changed today, the message that we are one species amongst all others, and not one species above all others, is relevant if we want to change the damaging path we are heading down…

Freedom – Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

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Species Persecuted in South AfricaA Glimpse into the Plight of The Persecuted Baboon and Monkey Populations in South Africa

ABOVE – SOME OF THE SPECIES PERSECUTED IN SOUTH AFRICA DUE TO HUMAN/WILDLIFE CONFLICT:

Comments on the Primate Populations in the Western Cape

Karin Saks The following comments are based on my experience as someone who works towards co-existence between residents, the Vervet Monkey and Chacma Baboon in The Crags/Plettenberg Bay/Knysna area. The vervet monkey and chacma baboon are listed on the hunting list based on the assumption that these populations are plentiful; it is widely believed that they are commonly seen and are therefore healthy. This view does not take the damage done to troop structures into consideration but regards these highly social species in terms of numbers only, without any regard to the dependance they have on a healthy social system. Except for the Cape Peninsula, these populations are not monitored and assumptions are made on outdated data. As the chacma baboon and vervet monkey are not considered to be venison, their presence on the hunting list needs to be questioned. My experience with wild baboons has shown that they are not born with a fear of humans but learn this from their elders who have developed a fear through interacting with humans. Humans are not considered to be natural predators to wild primates and because of the fact that we share primate genes, they are prone to getting close to humans when sharing a territory. This makes them highly vulnerable to being hunted at close range and is a factor that illustrates that shooting a baboon or monkey is devoid of any sport that could be beneficial to the hunter. Considering these observations, the question remains: why are the vervet monkey and chacma baboon listed on the hunting proclamation at all? Is this a legal loophole that makes provision to allow the persecution of these species as “problem animals” and if so how does that interfere with their classification as “protected” species under CITES?

“So heart broken this morning – our precious little Lilly, who was so abused by village people died last night. We did everything we could to save her. I really hate those people, may God forgive me for that feeling, but at this stage, I am so angry, so very angry!!!” K. Hickley – caretaker

DOUG: FIVE YR OLD WILD MALE TORTURED TO DEATH IN THE CRAGS – JUNE 2013

It must have happened about a month ago: Doug, a five year old male in the wild troop went missing. Our search led to a tragic conclusion: he'd allegedly been lured into a cage, then stabbed to death with a stick. His corpse was then prepared to be eaten. RIP my beautiful friend......... Photo of Doug by Anna Wood

AFFADAVIT The affidavit above was written by a witness who has spent over thirty years living on the property owned by the farmer. This witness has allegedly seen many baboons killed while growing up on this property. He claims that baboon corpses are allegedly often taken to the local village where the flesh gets consumed and the fur gets used to make carpets. These actions of the farmer set an unethical – and unspeakably cruel  – example for the employees on his property. doug rh 11

ABOVE – DOUG IN 2011

Feb 2013 Doug who was brutally killed by a farm worker in June.

After we trapped a severely injured wild troop member in February, Doug visited daily to check on his close friend while we healed him.

In a wild primate troop a cohesive,social system is necessary to the healthy working of the whole group. When thisfragile system is disrupted, it impacts not only on members within the group but all symbiotic relationships within the environment.

Robert Sapolsky – neurologist and primatologist – who has done extensive research into the effects of stress on baboons in Kenya, claims that; “the blood levels of cortisol (also known as hydrocortisone), one of the hormones most reliably secreted during stress, rose significantly” amongst a troop of baboons, when a new male baboon moved into the troop.  At the same time, “their numbers of white bloodcells, or lymphocytes, the centinel cells of the immune system that defend thebody against infections, declined markedly, another highly reliable index ofstress.” He also found that high levels of stress amongst transfer males hadcompromised their immune systems, leaving them unusually vulnerable toparasites and other diseases.(The Trouble with Testosterone by Robert Sapolsky,p81, 85) We can deduce from these observations that when humans interfere with troop structures by eliminating a male leader for example, this results in a higher turnover of alpha males which in turn leads to turbulent troop relationships and a break down in social dynamics. High levels of stress at a consisent level brought about by humans shooting key individuals that are integral to familial or friendship groups within the framework of a highly complex primate social system, will impact negatively on the group’s ability to function as a healthy cohesive whole. We can also deduce from this that an unhealthy primate troop will impact negatively on all related systems and would therefore not be contributing to a healthy bio-diversity. CARINACarina Cunningham Webber – a vervet monkey sanctuary owner – with a wild vervet troop who were all killed without challenge by a resident in her area. The three areas most commonly targeted that interfere with the natural processes necessary for troop cohesion are:  1. Dispersing male monkeys and baboons are often targeted by residents  

  1. Alpha male, wrongly believed to be the sole decision maker in the troop is shot for acting on behalf of the whole group.

 

  1.  Because of the demand of vervet monkey babies in the pet industry, adult female monkeys are often shot.

Due to the fragile, cohesive social system necessary for healthy troop structures, the above practices not only cause disruption to thegroup but also have a permanent effect on future generations. Vervet Monkey populations between Mossel Bay and Stormsriver appear to be damaged. Residents report the disappearance of whole troops. It is no longer common to sight these animals and troops – more oftenthan not – contain too few individuals (often under five). With fewer troopsaround, dispersing males have further to travel, at great risk, to find newtroops to move into. Baboon troops often exhibit an unhealthy skew in the adult male to female ratio as males are most often targeted by humans.

MATT: SHOT – AUGUST 2013

Following the wild baboon troop with Matt...

Above: Karin following the resident wild troop with Matt in the foreground. Matt was allegedly shot towards the end of August 2013 by a Crags resident.

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MATT ABOVE IN 2011
GarethPatterson – “Some field observations on Vervet monkey status and distribution within thestudy area of the Knysna elephant research project 2001 – 2009. Area of Observations.The approximate range of Knysna elephants is an 620 square kilometre area comprising of Afromontane forest, mountain fynbos, forest edge and commercial plantations. Observations were undertaken mostly on foot while gathering elephant diet and DNA samples, and while gathering data on the range of the elephants. Duration May 2001 to September 2009. Vervet monkeys were seen infrequently during the entire study period,despite thousand’s of kilometres undertaken on foot during the above timeframe. Afromontane forest.Vervet monkeys were very rarely seen within the forests itself.When occasionally seen, comprise of small troops of approximately 7- 10 individuals. Occasionally transient males would be seen from time to time on the Knysna -Uniondale road south of Diepwalle. Mountain fynbos.Vervet monkeys very rarely seen in mountain fynbos. Forest edge.Vervet troops were seen mostly in forest edge areas, particulary in areas where streams occur. Sightings were not frequent though. Troop size on average would approximately 7 – 10. Commercial plantations.Vervet troops were very rarely seen in these areas. During deployment of remote camera’s 2007 – 2009 bushbuck and bushpig were fairly frequently photographed. Honey-badger have been photographed occasionally.Caracal have been photographed twice so far this year.During 2007 – 2009 only once have vervet monkey been photographed,one individual, a transient male (September 2009). This occurred close to the forest edge. While undertaking the Knysna elephant research project I was surprised how infrequently vervet monkeys were sighted. Also of concern was the small troop size. Recommendation. Research urgently needs to be undertaken on the status, distribution and genetic diversity (and degree of relatedness) of vervet monkeys in this portion of the Western Cape.”
DIDI – ORPHANED VERVET MONKEY KILLED BY A RESIDENT IN THE CRAGS – 2012
Didi was orphaned in 2007 when a resident killed his mother near Knysna.

Didi was orphaned in 2007 when a resident killed his mother near Knysna.

Didi – Darwin Primate Group Monkey Shot by Crags Resident – Nov 2012:
“One day, hopefully in the near future, I will tell you the whole story about this particular blog post. Right now, my hands are tied, my voice silenced and the threats continue.11th November - RIP Didi...
 Above: hand written affidavit by a man who worked for Didi”s killer (A Jehovah’s witness who Karin has never met or interacted with in person. Prior to Didi’s death, a DPG volunteer had visited the killer’s family to let them know that Didi might visit their property, and the volunteer asked the family to contact the DPG if and when this occurred. When Didi arrived on the killer’s property, he was shot with a pellet gun without hesitation and died a slow, tortuous death according to the witness. The witnesses name has been blacked out to protect his identity as his job is at risk. The killer also threatened to sue us if we made the truth public.
All I can say is that someone shot my very first orphan baby, vervet monkey on the 11th of November, and I am unable to speak out right now because of their threats. The killer – a “religious” man who lives in the same road –  did it intentionally, knowing I’d spent days searching for Didi. Having the choice to call me to get him back to his territory, knowing I was searching for him, they chose instead to kill.”
To read the history behind Karin’s challenges with Crags residents:  https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/farmers-vs-wildlife-the-crags/
The Integral Role of the Transient Male in Monkey and Baboon Troops: As mentioned before, these males transfer into new groups to ensure genetic mixing while the females stay in their birth troops for life,ensuring a strong female bonded social core. a) The myth of the Rogue Male: Often it is single males that get shot by residents. With every case that I have been called on to investigate in this area, the single male baboon or monkey that has been “raiding’ human foods, has proved to be a dispersing male – usually at the age of puberty and leaving the troop for the very first time – making his way into a new troop. These males are most  to be “old rogue males kicked out of the troop”. In fact, it is rare to see an old male baboon or monkey in this area for few reach old age anymore. Male vervet monkeys and baboons move from their birth troops (about five times in their lifetimes) into new troops. When these malesare shot as is often the case, this necessary natural process is prevented withthe consequences being long term negative effects on the fragile social system needed for a healthy primate troop. In turn, this negatively affects other systems that they have a symbiotic relationship with; including their relationship to humans and the territory we often share. b) The Perspective of the Transient Male: Our biggest mistake in understanding the way in which we contribute to the dysfunction of healthy troop structures is to assume that only the physical impact matters. To ignore the complex psychological components necessary for wild primate species that are based on social relationships, is to deny a crucial element that is integral to a healthy bio-diversity. Pubescent primate males dispersing into new troops do notonly face a temporary time of physical challenge but also one of psychological challenge; for pubescent males, these necessary lessons bring a physical and psychological strength that is not only needed for theindividual but the whole troop in the future. These young males, having left the protection and guidance of their birth group are tested for the first time in many ways.Without the protection of the group, they are exposed to predators and other difficult elements of the wilderness. Not only are they at risk from predatorsbut their new troop is likely to be hostile until the individual has formedbonds – this can take a few months. Sometimes these males are not accepted at all. With all the added unnatural risks these males face due to human intervention, they sometimesironically seek protection in human areas where they have been led to believe they may find it due to humans feeding them by hand. If you consider the monkey troops that have apparentlybeen wiped out in The Crags area (as residents views suggest), this means that dispersing male monkeys are forced to wander abnormally far distances to find another troop, hence risks are increased. These males therefore find themselves trying to survive in unknown territories with strange predators and the challenge of finding new food sources that they had previously relied on the troop to help them with. Sometimes, when life gets this tough for the male that has been forced to wander unnaturally long distances, he will seek protectionin human areas, deluded by that fact that humans are friendly when they invitethese animals in by feeding them. Human areas full of abundant unnatural food sources that also have a scarcity of threatening predators are an obvious attraction for wild primates suffering undue risks. But as these primates have a strong understanding of territorial boundaries, it is the mixed messages that humans themselves give that allow these species to assume they are welcome. In the CapePeninsula, dispersing male baboons are unable to reach new troops as development has cut them off from doing so. Dispersing males are alone; without grooming partners that contribute to their physical and mental health that generally keep parasite infestation at bay. Robert Sapolsky –primatologist and neurologist observed that during this period, the accumulated stress in transient males contributes to parasite infestation as the immune system becomes relatively weak. Once the individual joins a group, his health balances out again. This once again illustrates how fragile a period this isfor dispersing males. As the male is left without troop guidance, he may resort to the temptation of new food sources and enter onto human properties where hewill at first be respectful of the territorial boundaries but once invited in,will push those boundaries and attempt to raid. Puberty is a time ofexploration and learning for these young males who have yet to grasp the fullmaturity needed when adult. As sub-adults, they are also more likely to benaïve about the dangers, humans present. Residents need to practice consistency in their approachto demonstrate that it is unacceptable for wild primates to enter theirproperties. It also helps to have baboon/monkey proof homes and to ensure thatno attractions – especially garbage – are on display. In time, with the resident’s patience, tolerance andunderstanding, the transient male will move on into his new group and if he haslearnt worthwhile lessons (not to push territorial boundaries) from his humanneighbors, he will carry these lessons with him. In this way residents cancontribute to the future of healthy monkey and baboon troops. At present, however, the Hunting Proclamation which allows landowners to shoot two monkeys/baboons a day all year round actively encourages the persecution of these species and therefore contributes to misconceptions and the continuous destruction of troop structures that negatively affects bio-diversity. THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION GIVES A CLEAR MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT HOW TO TREAT THESE ANIMALS.  The HuntingProclamation gives residents the message that persecuting the Vervet monkey andChacma baboon is not only acceptable but encouraged by the authorities, henceshowing a disregard for the role these species play within the environment.  Shootingthe Alpha Male to deter the troop from Raiding:  Shooting the alpha male does not deter the troop from raiding as has been proved many times in the past. Instead, a new male is likely to move into the troop, kill all the infants and spend many monthsworking out new relationships that bring turbulence and social disruption. When these alpha males are repeatedly killed and replaced, this process occurs moreoften than is natural and has far reaching traumatic consequences for membersin the group. New males that move in from outside the troop do not necessarilybring new lessons but may well follow the lead of the troop, hence the groupwill continue to raid. The most influential males in a troop do not makedecisions on behalf of the whole troop alone, but act according to the will of troop members. With so many male baboons being targeted the result is an unhealthy skew in the adult male to female ratio which in turn causes socialbehaviour changes. Bad WasteManagement is One of the Main Reasons Wildlife is Attracted to Human Areas: TheTargeting of Adult Female Monkeys: Because the Hunting Proclamation actively allows thepersecution of baboons and monkeys, the message given to people is that thesespecies do not matter. As a result widespread abuse occurs. It is difficult to monitor the growing demand for vervet monkey baby pets for example. During the birth season which occurs just before Christmas, copious amounts of adult female monkeys are shot so that their babies can be taken and sold. The Vervet is a female bonded species based on anumber of matrilines. Females stay in their troop for the duration of theirlives; it is the females who have the most knowledge about food sources andpredators within the territory. This information is passed on from onegeneration to the next. These individuals are therefore integral to the knowledge and social health of the troop. Again, shooting individuals in a monkey troop causes dysfunctional social systems that impact on the troop members and future generations. The above examples illustrate to some small extent how the Hunting Proclamation actively destroys wild primate social structures and contributes to a decline in numbers.  Hundredsof Baboons and Monkeys are held in Rehabilitation Centres without Safe Habitats to Release them into: Thereare a number of vervet monkey rescue centres in KZN; Although these centres see a fraction of the amount of monkeys that require rescue, an average month reveals that up to seventy monkeys will die at the most prolific monkey rescue centre in KZN.  The amount of monkeys and baboons injured and killed by humans cannot be underestimated. These primates are certainly the victims of legislation that actively encourages thepersecution of these species and perpetuates the myths about them.  It takes quite a few years to rehabilitate these troops – the biggest problem once rehabilitated, is that there are too few safe habitats to release them into.   Protective legislation that is actively and strongly enforced would bring a solution to this problem.  Widespread Abuse of The Hunting Proclamation: Experience has shown me that the Hunting Proclamation isbeing abused in a number of ways: many landowners tend to turn a blind eye whentheir workers, firstly lure onto the property, then snare or shoot, wild species. In an area wracked by poverty, workers lure wild animals by intentionallyleaving food sources around, whether it be open garbage bins, compost heaps, horse food or other food. This works in the landowner’s best economical interests when the property is a cattle farm or polo field for example. Workers have shown that they lure and kill bushbuck, bushpigs, baboons and monkeys to eat in this area. It is unrealistic to expect that landowners will act responsibly in the best interests of the environment when it is easier to kill and  support personal financial interests. It is equally irresponsible to assume that residents are in a position to make informed decisions about what constitutes a“problem animal” when this perception is usually distorted by unnecessary fear,ignorance of wild primate behaviour and misconceptions supported by legislationsuch as the Hunting Proclamation.  These cases need physical investigation and should be done by those who have the environment/bio-diversity’s best interests at heart.  Listingthe Vervet Monkey and Chacma Baboon on a Hunting List: Neither of these primate species can be considered for sport/recreational hunting as their close proximity to humans makes shootingthem akin to canned hunting. Furthermore, asthese wild primates are not generally considered edible and are geneticallyclose to us, it is entirely nonsensical that they be listed on a hunting list. Taking these factors into account, it becomes quite clearthat the vervet monkey and chacma baboon are listed on a hunting list, andallowed to be killed at two a day, all year round, because it is desired that they be eradicated. In this light their so called “protected” status under theNature Conservation Ordinance, Ordinance 19 of 1974 is redundant. In practice, I have witnessed that the vervet monkey and chacma baboon are offered little – if any –  protection and that the Hunting Proclamation is allowed to be abused and used to the detriment of our wild primate populations.  

https://darwinprimategroup.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/feb-2013-doug/

My Friends the Baboons

During the summer of 2006, I met a wild troop of baboons while carrying an orphaned baby baboon called Rhiannon around the property we rented in The Crags. Bud, the current alpha, had not joined this group yet and all I recall about the alpha male – at the time – was his apparent outrage towards me for carrying a baboon baby. I guess from his perspective, having seen his kind being severely persecuted in the area for so long, his immediate response was to assume that I probably had bad intentions towards the young infant in my arms.

Over time, this troop came to trust me – after witnessing my bond with various orphans – both vervets and baboons over the years.

They’d watch when I nursed the injured, and listen when I comfort grunted in either vervet or chacma, depending on who I was speaking to.

They came to understand that my presence in the area was not one of hostility but one that provided shelter for all wildlife, particularly those who were persecuted and injured.

This mutual understanding took some years and resulted in me being relieved to discover that just as this group of baboons could rely on me to not harm them, I could do the same.

Baboons rely on a reciprocal social system.

I’d shown them a number of times that while they could not cross certain boundaries, (for example, taking food from me), I would not harm any of the individuals in the group. In return, I was rewarded with the secure knowledge that they would not harm any monkey, cat, dog, or chicken in my care for those animals were part of my extended troop

 

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It takes some understanding of wild primate language – along with a fair amount of patience – but once one manages to keep a balance with the local baboon neighbors whereby they understand not to push too much but to trust that you will not go as far as harming them, the potential relationship that can then unfold is one that demystifies the many misconceptions we have been taught by humans about these misunderstood primates for way too long.

Imagephoto: Anna Wood