November 25, 2009 in Nation/World

Baboons robbing South African tourists

Unruly primates raid cars for food
Courtney Brooks Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A baboon attempts to open the door on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Visitors to South Africa’s premier holiday destination who are worried about becoming victims of the country’s high crime rate could find themselves instead robbed by a more furry kind of felon: baboons.

The cheeky primates have learned how to open car doors and jump through windows in pursuit of tasty sandwiches and snacks.

City officials are battling to control the increasingly aggressive troupes, and there are fears the problem will only worsen with the influx of visitors to Cape Town during the World Cup next year.

On Tuesday, a troupe of 29 baboons raided four cars outside Simon’s Town, a small coastal neighborhood. A baboon dubbed “Fred,” the leader of the group, opened unlocked doors and jumped through windows to search for food.

“We spend the whole day basically rescuing tourists,” said Mark Duffels, a volunteer who monitors the baboons in an effort to keep them at bay.

There are about 420 baboons in 17 troupes that roam the city’s outskirts, especially the popular scenic sites along the coast.

Baboons are a protected species under South African legislation.

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