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A story about thieving baboons in the Western Cape

A Baboon Stole My Sandwich

By J.F. Kloppers

Well, it's absolutely true - my wonderful tofu salad sandwiches that my hubby made with such tender-loving care were 'scoffed'... by a Baboon.

I am not joking - a flipping huge Chacma Baboon took our entire picnic lunch, eating much of it in front of our eyes before neatly tucking the plastic bag under his arm and speeding off into the distance. I truly felt that I'd been made a monkey of.

This all occurred in such a flash that we're still recovering from the, erm, trauma. But here's how it started.

Rolling through the beautiful Cape Peninsula National Park (where zebras literally roam, even though they quite wisely keep out of sight), we came into the parking lot of the mighty Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean's current collide. Our guides for the day were the friendly South African ladies, Bronwyn and Jennifer, who had taken us through a lovely tour of Kirstenbosch Gardens (the old stomping grounds of Cecil Rhodes) and the Groot Constantia winery where hubby tasted up to five wines before I'd had to carry him out [just kidding].

Our BMW X3 came to a halt and we all prepared to disembark. The side-door opened wide, but just as I was about to disembark a loud WHUMPF emanated from the vehicle's roof. 'WTF...?' we all thought, or words to that effect.

This was seriously beginning to feel like Jurassic Park - you know, when a raptor jumps into your utility car, seizes the car keys, and makes off with your only form of transportation in a hostile environment.

Uh oh. Within literally seconds, a big furry thing leapt straight into the back seat where hubby and I were sitting. Suddenly this large beastie with incisors bigger than mine; long nails; and a very long snout was sitting next to me, I was undecided whether to freak out or not at this stage.

Slowly - very slowly - we got out of the car, in order to leave Mr Baboon to have his way with our large bag of picnic goodies. With admirable stealth and speed, hubby grabbed my brown leather bag, in case our simian friend got a big too acquisitive.

All the time this was happening, a group of German and local Afrikaans tourists were snapping pictures and filming the thing with a handheld camera. I'm sure the baboons found all these flashes immensely entertaining. The first culinary casualty was our friend, Jennifer's bag of Manhattan marshmallow milk bottles, which the monkey gleefully gulped before moving onto an entire roll of chewy strawberry cookies. With amazing speed, he tore the cardboard covering and plastic wrapping away before downing the entire column of crumbs. The bananas were similarly torn apart in a very precise, thorough manner. '

Please not the tofu sandwiches,' I could hear myself saying. Thankfully, he didn't go for the sandwiches; it was the green grapes BEFORE the sandwiches, which were duly finished off as well.

After what seemed like an eternity, our friend grew tired of being closeted inside a big van, and with the back door being open, he very carefully tucked the plastic bag under his arm and shot off outside, leaving only a few stray grapes for his female companion to finish off.

A collective sigh of relief followed, and thankfully, nobody was harmed. Hubby mused that we should have charged for providing the free entertainment-! Within seconds we spotted a large sign indicating that 'Baboons Are Dangerous' - the irony of the situation was not lost upon us, and was made complete when we noted in our brochures that baboons are not only potentially violent, but are not to be fed under any circumstances.

Not that we had much say in the matter...! What followed was a fantastic walk up to the disused lighthouse on Cape Pount, a couple hundred meters above sea-level, from which vantage point we could see the waves hurling themselves against the rocks and sand WAY below. The air was crisp, and the surrounding mist made me feel like I was on stage at some Spinal Tap gig, at the part where they start getting the dry ice out.

Very trippy, indeed.

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