Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Only Store Of Its Kind!

On the way back from our shark expedition, I noticed a store with the odd name of "Baboon Matters." The name alone was intriguing, but even more fascinating was the billboard outside, which advertised is as "The World's Only Baboon Store!" I had to go in.

No, they didn't sell baboons. But they did sell every possible baboon-related artefact, and for a good reason.

Baboon Matters is not just a store; it is an organization run by people who are trying to solve the southern peninsula's Big Baboon Problem. The cape of South Africa is no longer the rough jungle that it used to be, where hippo and crocodile roamed. It is now quite heavily populated, although leopards still roam. But a serious problem is created by baboons. About two hundred and fifty of these large, powerful primates live in this region, and they don't believe in fearing man. They will readily break into houses to wreak havoc and steal food. You don't want to mess with a baboon; they are immensely powerful, with teeth scarcely inferior to those of a leopard. Conflicts between people and baboons can cause serious injuries on both sides. (Many people in this region have put bars on the windows and keep their doors locked, although for those who came from Johannesberg this can be annoying - it's exactly what they came to get away from!)

This is where Baboon Matters comes in. They encourage the villages to take appropriate precautions to keep the baboons away, but even more importantly, they have trained a large number of Baboon Monitors - locals who monitor the activities of the baboons. Aside from being a valuable means of employment in poverty-stricken South Africa, this is a huge help to solving the Big Baboon Problem. The Baboon Monitors are expert trackers who follow the baboons and encourage them to stay away from villages.

Of course, this huge project struggles for funding, and that's where the store comes in. You can buy baboon toys, baboon T-shirts, etc., etc. There are also some interesting artefacts on display, such as the preserved baboon fetus in jar. All in all, Baboon Matters is a wonderful and unique effort to help both people and animals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Baboon Monitors are expert trackers who follow the baboons and encourage them to stay away from villages.

"encourage"? A word usually used as a euphemism. How do they encourage them to stay away?