Thursday, October 02, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Baboon Robs Woman Using 'Guerrilla Strategy' to Steal Her Groceries at Cape Town Farmer's Market: 'Their Presence is a Big Issue' (PHOTOS)

By Julia Lynn Rubin j.rubin@hngn.com | Sep 19, 2013 04:31 PM EDT

Chacma Baboon
Chacma baboons live in very close proximity to humans and are sometimes killed as vermin. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

At a farmer's market in Cape Town, South Africa, a sneaky chacma baboon waited patiently before running up to an unsuspecting shopper and grabbing her rhubarb stalks out of her arms, the Daily Mail reports, before running back a second time for a tasty avocado after he found himself unimpressed with his stolen vegetable.

Cyril Ruoso, from Lailly in Burgundy, France, traveled to Cape Town to photograph the local baboons and document how "their presence is a big issue in that area" of the city.

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"In the past, chacma baboons were trapped here in large numbers, for use in medial research facilities," Ruoso told the Daily Mail. "Thanks to the work of local animal rights activists, this practice has been discontinued. As a result, the baboon population has increased and without any natural predators, the animals have become comfortable around humans."

The sneaky baboon who robbed the woman of her rhubarb is, in other words, far from the first nor the last to ambush locals with attempts at theft.


"They even stake out the local farmers markets, mugging shoppers as they return to their cars," Ruoso added. "Baboons know the market days and what time they start and finish, so they are around at the right moment ready for ambushes. The monkey keeps a distance, observing until a good opportunity arises to strike at the right time - it is like a guerrilla strategy. Baboons are very strong and can be aggressive, and when they want something it's a good idea to let them have it."

The chacma baboon is a member of the Old World monkey family, its descendants native to southern Africa, and is one of the largest of all monkeys around the world. Known for their collective foraging behavior, dominant individuals are not shy to take what they can find, even if it means swiping a tasty vegetable from a human.

Since 1999, chacma baboons have been protected by the South African government in an effort to conserve the species and prevent them from being hunted, though instead of residing in their natural habitats, many now make their home in cities where they can pillage local human homes for food by reaching through open windows.

While many find their robberies amusing, such as the recent set of pictures photographed by Ruoso, in which the victim appeared shocked yet entertained, others find the sneaky baboons to be a pest, going so far as to use pepper spray, paintball guns and sticks to ward them off. As they become further disconnected from their natural forest environments, baboons are often spotted rummaging through city trash cans, stealing from shops and markets and even swiping food from outdoor picnics.

Click here to see photos of the adult make chacma baboon that made two attempts to rob one Cape Town shopper of her groceries, and managed to swipe an avocado in reward for his efforts.


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