Drunk Baboons Plague Cape Town's Exclusive Suburbs

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The sun is
setting over South Africa’s oldest vineyard and the last of the
wine-tasting tourists are climbing onto their buses. But one large
family group has no intention of leaving – and there is little
the management can do about it.

Groot Constantia,
in the heart of Cape Town’s wine country, can deal with inebriated
holidaymakers – but it is invading baboons which have developed
a taste for its grapes that the wine makers are struggling with.

Each day, dozens
of Cape Baboons gather to strip the ancient vines – the sauvignon
blanc grapes are a particular favourite – before heading into
the mountains to sleep. A few, who sample fallen fruit that has
fermented in the sun, pass out and don’t make it home.

are not just eating our grapes, they are raiding our kitchens and
ripping the thatch off the roofs. They are becoming increasingly
bold and destructive," said Jean Naude, general manager at
the vineyard, which is celebrating its 325th birthday this year.
Guards banging sticks and waving plastic snakes have been deployed
with only limited success, and not even a blast of a vuvuzela, the
plastic horn made famous at the World Cup, seems to frighten them.

It is not just
the vineyards in South Africa which are under siege, however, but
also the exclusive neighbouring suburb of Constantia, home to famous
residents including Earl Spencer, Wilbur Smith and Nelson Mandela.

Crisis meetings
between animal welfare groups and traumatised locals are struggling
to find a workable solution.

there’s a mountain, there’s a baboon," said Justin O’Riain
of the Baboon Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. "As
we take up more and more of their land, the conflict increases."

The baboons
lived in the mountains of Cape Town long before humans took up residence,
but development has forced the unlikely neighbours into increasingly
closer contact.

the rest of the article

1, 2010

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