It’s a story Alfred Hitchcock would love. Baboons, extraordinarily social animals whose collective noun is appropriately “troop” are harassing a Saudi village, targeting houses in coordinated assaults while cleverly avoiding poison bananas the villagers have left behind. Arab News brings us the bizarre story:
A minor war has broken out south of Qunfudah in the village of Kiad where large groups of hungry baboons from nearby valleys are attacking residences in search of food and drink. Residents have employed a variety of methods to combat the primates but it is still a daily battle from sunrise to sunset.
Hussein Al-Barakati, a resident of Kiad, said that he feared for his mother’s safety as she lives alone near the valley. Baboons raid her home from time to time in search of water. Weather conditions have left the valley parched and prompted the baboons to forage among the humans.
It’s not just in Saudi Arabia that baboons see human beings as a prey animal. At the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, there is a parking lot for tourists coming to see the beautiful wild landscape where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Baboons lurk on the edge of the parking lot, watching tourists come and go. They look for car doors that aren’t locked, windows that are left opened, absent-minded tourists carrying food. If they see an opportunity they move in swiftly and relentlessly, stripping pedestrians of their bags, ripping up car seats in their quest for food, and generally acting like the lords of the earth.
I’ve seen animals at sea with no fear of man; the eagle rays, barracudas and reef sharks of the Caribbean for example aren’t exactly worried about the occasional scuba diver or snorkeler who splashes awkwardly through their domain. But the baboons in that parking lot were land animals like we are, and they clearly felt only contempt for their squishy, soft, clawless and short toothed cousins. You could see it in their hard and glittering eyes.