It used to be that the humans were bothering the baboons. Now it’s the other way round.
People visiting Yankari Game Reserve in Nigeria are having their purses snatched by teams of baboon pickpockets who are a lot faster and smarter than their victims.
“They are hardly spotted at close range but once they pounce on you, it is only a matter of seconds and your handbag is gone,” Aishatu Baza, a female tourist, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). “If you have valuable items in the bag, they are gone.”
The baboons grab the handbags and other items and race away to the treetops.
“Unlike other animals that stay in the reserve’s forest, the baboons mingle with tourists in areas reserved for human beings,” another visitor, Ngozi Okechukwu, said. “They snatch anything of value carried by tourists, especially the ladies.”
Malam Umaru Baba, another tourist, told how some baboons swooped on his family while they were having a picnic. “They took away all our snacks.”
Managers at the reserve say the tourists have themselves to blame since, going against all warnings, they insist on trying to feed the baboons.
But there’s a dark side to all this. While it sounds quite funny, ultimately this is bad news for the baboons. Speaking somewhat elliptically, the general manager of the reserve said: “We sometimes, with permission, ‘eliminate’ baboons identified to be of age and aggressive to the extent of posing threat to the personal safety of visitors.”
So there we have it. Humans go into the baboons’ homes, which are now called a “reserve.” The human visitors disrupt their lives by throwing treats to them, and the baboons come back for more. And when the visitors feel they’re being bothered, the baboons are killed. Now, that’s a conservation plan!