Here’s what to do when confronted by a baboon

In the great outdoors there are many creatures that scare people and give them the creeps – snakes, spiders, lizards – the list goes on. But, while most creatures evade human contact at all costs, there are some that aren’t afraid to get up close and person (and steal your food).

Baboons are considered the thieves of the wild and they are opportunists, viewing humans as a source of food. Their diet usually contains fruits but they have also been known to eat small animals as well. They are omnivorous and will eat whatever they can get their hands on. If a baboon wants something that you have (which is usually food), it will do all it can to get it from you – this includes sometimes even charging and attacking you.

Their sharp and long teeth are dangerous weapons that can do serious damage to critical areas of the human body like the face and neck, for example. A physical sign will almost always be present to warn hikers or those on holiday in the wild to the presence of baboons and not to feed them at any cost.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that baboons travel and live in troops so if you happen to see one of them, you can be sure that the family of up to 50 members are close by. While baboons have a rugged appearance, they are clever and know the areas where humans commonly frequent, not being afraid to ‘invade’ public or residential areas to get what they want.

They are most commonly found in South Africa’s Cape Peninsula where they come down from the mountain (once an opportunity arises), where raiding a stationary vehicle for food is not uncommon.

Gumtree lists what to do if you’re confronted by a baboon:

  • Stand still and remain calm. Sudden movements will make it act defensively.
  • Do not shout or make wild gestures as this will encourage an attack.
  • Spray the baboon with a strong stream of water as they are not fond of water.
  • Stand still, don’t show your teeth and look them straight in the eyes.
  • Do not try to take anything back from the baboon, as it will fight back. Baboons have both the musculature and teeth that can do serious damage to human flesh.
  • Back away slowly and do not block its escape route.
  • Do not threaten their infants because the alpha male, will protect them from you with aggression if necessary.

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