Planning your home if you live near baboons
The most important thing to keep in mind when you are planning your home in an area affected by baboons is to think like a baboon! Try to imagine what would attract a baboon to your home, and then put plans in place to prevent this from happening.
To start with reduce all visual stimuli that we might be giving to the baboons – a full fruit bowl is a very high reward to a baboon, so is a loaf of bread left lying on the counter top.
Reduce the visual stimulus by keeping fruit bowls and any other foodstuff out of sight in the fridge or a cupboard.
Curtains or netting also prevent the baboons from seeing into your home – if they can’t see any obvious food source the baboons will be less likely to gain entry to the house.
Artificial fruits are a visual stimulus and there have been reported cases of baboons gaining entry to homes thinking that bowl of wooden fruits are easy food.
If you are planning and building a house in an area affected by baboons, try to make space for a pantry with a lockable door, many residents who do have pantries report that by keeping all foodstuffs locked away and out of sight, the baboons find no reason to come into those specific houses.
Prevent entry into your home:
Burglar-proof your home and make sure there is no more than an 8cm gap in the bars on windows that are to be left open.
Remember that juvenile baboons and even some of the sub-adults can get through cat and dog flaps! There are devices that you can attach to the collar of your domestic pet so that the flaps only open as they approach and don’t remain open all the time thus allowing only your pt into the home.
Safety gates are effective in keeping bigger baboons out, infants and some small juvenile baboons can fit through some safety gates.
Put additional locks onto sliding doors (see illustration 3) this will considerably reduce the baboons’ ability to force sliding doors off their runners to gain entry to your home.
Use round door handles wherever possible as the baboons find these handles much more difficult to use.
Plan your structure to minimise the impact of baboons:
Place additional braces to support the lengths of drain pipes and guttering – the baboons often use drainpipes and guttering to climb up and down your home – the extra bracing will ensure that the pipes don’t fall down or break.
Use good, washable exterior paint so that dirty baboon hand prints are easily washed away.
Put deterrents such as additional electrification around your DSTV dish, it is costly to replace but a huge attraction for young baboons to investigate. A friend recently used the long acacia thorns to excellent effect by strapping the thorny branches around the DSTV dish – as the baboons immediately recognise the long acacia thorns, they know to avoid that area.
If you can prepare well in advance by using longer nails and screws, extra braces, stronger material, the additional cost and effort at the beginning will pay huge dividends over time as the potential damage caused by baboons will be greatly reduced.
A few commonly asked questions
1. Do the big baboons send the smaller baboons into our homes to get food?
No, this idea really has developed into something of an urban legend. The facts are the small baboons can fit through some burglar bars, and through some safety gates whereas the bigger baboons cannot. The small baboons, often the very young baboons, are as opportunistic as the older baboons, however, they are not as confident away from the safety of the troop.
The small baboons make quick forays for easy food, but when they return to the troop waiting outside, the bigger dominant baboons take the food from them. This is typical baboon behaviour – they work with a dominance structure and so the dominant baboons often steal food from the subordinate baboons.
An important thing for all humans to remember is that if we give food to baboons we are inadvertently telling them that we are subordinate.
2. Will the old fashioned “fly screens” prevent baboons from coming into the home?
If the “fly screens” are well made and strong enough to withstand the inquisitive prying of the baboons, they may well prove to be an effective barrier. It will still be essential to ensure that no food is obviously available, if there is food on display chances are the baboons will break the screen in order to get to the food.
It is often a combination of tactics that are most successful in deterring baboons – so remember to reduce the obvious rewards and make it as difficult as possible for the baboons to gain any rewards – in this way the baboons will soon learn that there is nothing of value in the villages and they won’t waste their time and energy coming into our areas for food.