Remain calm

Remain calm and relaxed whenever in close proximity to baboons. This actually applies to all animals. Baboons are far better at reading body language than we are, and if we come across as threatening, they will become nervous and unpredictable and may be more likely to be aggressive. This is of course easier said than done, as it is obviously not easy to remain calm when you encounter a baboon in your house or car! But it is really important to do so. At the very least, when confronted by a baboon, lower your eyes and look at the ground in front of you. This will be less threatening to the baboon than staring directly at it.

 

 

Do not feed baboons

One of the biggest problems with the human-baboon interface is that baboons have learned that humans often carry food – and that this food is both easy to acquire and usually quite satisfying! The result of this is that baboons now associate humans with an easy meal. Whenever possible, we must avoid reinforcing this. Every time a baboon is successful at getting food from a human, it just contributes to the problem. Thus, your first reaction upon seeing a baboon should be to hide your food and prevent the baboon(s) from seeing it or accessing it.

On the other hand, sometimes it is too late to do the right thing and you must simply minimize conflict. If a fearless baboon encounters you carrying a hamburger, he may try to take it away from you. In this case, it is probably best to simply let him have it.

 

Do not tease baboons

Some people like dangling food from car windows as they might do for a dog. This is stupid. And very dangerous. Why would you deliberately provoke a wild animal? While baboons may look like dogs, they are not domesticated like dogs, and they will likely not respond well to food being hung just out of reach. Bottom line: this is a recipe for disaster.



 

 

Close and lock your car doors

Baboons will readily climb into cars to search for food. Beware: many baboons know how to open car doors! So you must keep your doors locked when in a baboon area. This is the case both when you are not in the car and when you are in it: baboons have been known to jump into cars and climb right over people sitting in them to look for food that they know is in there!


 

Do not touch baboons

Baboons may be cute, especially the young ones, but please don't be tempted to touch them. This is not only dangerous, but it exacerbates the baboon-human problem because it diminishes the natural fear that baboons have of humans. Wild animals are naturally fearful of humans. When they lose that fear, they become less inhibited and they may respond to what they perceive as a threat with outright aggression.


 

 

Let the baboon have the bag

Many baboons have learned that backpacks and other bags contain food, and that humans will drop those bags at the least provocation, yielding a bounty for the baboon provocateur. If you leave the safety of your car in a baboon area, try not to bring any bags with you. If you bring a camera, carry it separately so that baboons will see that it is a camera and not food. And if a baboon tries to physically take a bag from you, do not try to take it back as this is very likely to lead to aggression. Let the baboon have the bag! The baboon will eventually get bored with it - even more quickly if there is no food inside - and you can then go pick it up.

 

 


Content on this page contributed by:

Julian Saunders
Larissa Swedell

Thanks to the following reviewers for improving this page:

Angela van Doorn
Shahrina Chowdhury


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