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Posted on: Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Bum’s the Word

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The Baboons!

The Baboons!

By Dave Rattle – Kommetjie, Cape Town.

We have two guest cottages in Kommetjie – where the baboons are. The baboons are always getting a bad press but, as long as there’s no food around, they are the most delightful and gentle creatures. I always recommend a walk with the Cape Peninsula baboons to all our guests who stay at Longbeach Lodge and Glen Cottage  – it’s an experience second only to seeing the mountain gorillas!!

And whenever we talk about baboons my brother-in-law always brings up an incident that happened to us last year with a chuckle – for him, apparently, it’s high humour! We were walking along the coastline just past Simon’s Town. When we got back to the bakkie there was a small troop of baboons sitting beside it playing and grooming and there was also a very large male – sitting right on top of the canopy. To access the vehicle we obviously had to do something …

Longbeach Lodge

Longbeach Lodge

I don’t remember why, but I landed up at the back end of the vehicle whilst the others were at the front. They started making ‘shoo, shoo, baboon’ noises as they walked slowly forward with the intention of gently moving the troop away, but meanwhile there I was, right in the path of their retreat! The smaller females and the babies soon moved and, taking no notice of me, drifted on past, but the big male didn’t budge from the roof until the very last minute.

Then suddenly, galvanised into action, he vaulted down and headed straight at me, very fast indeed! Aggression! Oh my God! This was it! With no chance of moving out of the way, this was my time – quite certainly the way I would go! Mauled to death by a giant “silverback”! My life flashed before my eyes – but also some race memory that told me – be submissive! Avert your eyes! Turn your back! Show him your bum!

Glen Cottage

Glen Cottage

That suited me fine – it was as much an automatic attempt at major flinching from the anticipated impact as trying to be clever and ‘act baboon’, and I turned around fast and bent down like a naughty schoolboy with my backside presented to the headmaster.

And then, suddenly, he was past me but, as he went, he delivered a hefty whack on my raised posterior – a contemptuous thwackka-whakka-whack that said to me in no uncertain terms: “Now bugger off and stop annoying me – AND DON’T GET IN MY WAY AGAIN!!

And let me tell you, I never have!!

Anybody staying in the Cape Peninsula should experience the baboons – now – before it’s too late! At Longbeach Lodge or Glen Cottage we’d be thrilled to organise a mornings’ walk with the baboons up in their own habitat on the mountain, with professional supervision.

Don’t miss this unique experience!!

The SA-Venues.com Team


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7 comments about Bum’s the Word
  1. July 14th, 2009 at 09:17
    Grant Fortuin GLM Tours says:

    Yes to stay near Tokai we also get run in with them and sometimes really funny one’s.

  2. July 14th, 2009 at 11:34
    Christine says:

    Thanks Dave, now we know what to do when confronted by a baboon!!

  3. July 14th, 2009 at 13:38
    Stefani says:

    Love this article Dave. So glad to hear someone speaking favourably about the baboons for a change. I couldn’t agree more. They’re an amazing thing to see (and may not be around much longer) and something we should be protecting, rather than complaining about or trying to get rid of. Baboon numbers around the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve have dwindled so much in recent years (I believe there are less than 300 now in the area). I know it’s a touchy subject for many, with residents frustrated by property damage and conservationists doing their utmost to protect them. Perhaps we should all try to remember that we are invading their territory!

  4. July 14th, 2009 at 15:05
    Dave Rattle says:

    Grant – you’re right – I’ve had several other really humourous and always gentle experiences with our furry neighbours!

    Christine – thanks so much for your encouraging message!

    Stefani – you’re quite right! I always think that it should not be a battle: us vs them. If you live or holiday in the Peninsula, baboons are part of the natural order of things – their being here enriches our lives like hearing the dawn chorus or witnessing a guineafowl indaba in the trees as the sun goes down. They are a natural part of everything like the sun and the rain, and if they were removed (sounds like aparthied!) or (worse still) be shot out, living here would be a considerably poorer experience. We should enjoy them, embrace their presence and be glad we have the unique opportunity of interaction at close quarters with one of the only large animals left in nature that doesn’t automatically run a mile when they see a human!

  5. July 29th, 2009 at 10:23
    peter says:

    We had the great honour of being taken on a walk with baboons a few years ago. I think it was a lady called Jenny. She was absoloutely fantastic and we never felt threatened at any time. Highly recommended. Peter Cape town

  6. July 29th, 2009 at 11:39
    Dave Rattle says:

    My wife, Annie, and myself have walked with the baboons above Kommetjie on many occasions – usually taken by Jernny Trethowen of Baboon Matters (website: http://www.baboonmatters.org.za). People who have done it say that walking with the Cape Peninsula baboons is an experience second only to seeing the Ruandan mountain gorillas!! W

  7. July 29th, 2009 at 12:03
    Dave Rattle says:

    Yes, Peter, it was Jenni Trethowen of Baboon Matters (www.baboonmatters.org.za) who has been managing the baboons for the last 10 years. I and my wife, Annie, have often walked with Jenni and the baboons above Kommetjie – an experience, people say, second only to seeing the Ruandan mountain gorillas. Now I see that Cape Nature have awarded the baboon management contract in a flawed process to Nature Conservation Corporation, an unknown, inexperienced company, no doubt due to the normal bribe or backhander we have come to expect from the majority of our politicians. If you or anybody reading this would like to send Jenni an email of support, I know she’d appreciate it. her email is: jennit@cybersmart.co.za. Thanks for your input, Dave Rattle