Science and TechAnimals and Insects


How To Thwart Thieving Baboon Gangs

South Africa's baboons raid homes and cars in search of food.
Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 23, 2017

Scientists are helping South Africa track a band of persistent criminals: baboons.

South Africa's baboon population is feeling the pressure of a shrinking habitat. With fewer traditional food sources available, the animals have resorted to stealing food from nearby humans. They raid homes, gardens and trash. Some even approach cars and steal food right out of people's hands.

A team of researchers has developed a tracking collar. It allows them to monitor the baboons' behavior and track their movements more closely than ever to try to help the government address the growing problem.

The baboon raids got so bad, people began shooting and killing baboons that entered their property. But the government soon got involved amid pressure from conservationists who were concerned about population decline.

It established a baboon management system to better control raiding baboons. Last year, officials erected a virtual fence around residential areas — the fence emits the noise of a predator to scare off approaching baboons.

But some baboons are still getting around the system. The scientists hope their new tracking collars will tell them exactly how.