In southwest Saudi Arabia, baboons have no qualms about entering inhabited areas to loot trashcans and pantries. Such monkey business is causing panic among the local residents, who are resorting to unusual means to get rid of the baboons.
There are many baboons in the mountainous regions of southwestern Saudi Arabia, namely in al-Qura, al-Baha, and Abha. For the last several months, roving monkey hordes have been venturing increasingly closer to villages and farmland. The Ministry of Local Government is concerned by the growing number of raids and has launched awareness campaigns in the country’s south.
Baboons attacking garbage bins in the al-Ta’ef region. Video uploaded to YouTube on January 2, 2013.
“Some residents have set up traps that give off electric jolts”
Fayçal al-Zahrani lives in al-Baha province. Baboons frequently invade his neighborhood.
They typically arrive before dawn, in groups of 10 to 20 baboons. First, they raid crops in the fields around the village, then they tear open the trash bags and even try to break into houses to steal food. Last week, they caused a panic at a girls’ school they attacked early in the morning. They managed to steal cookies in the backpacks of the students. Residents are also concerned because baboons can transmit serious diseases.Baboons near a school in Assir. Photo taken by Muhammad Amara in December 2012.In my village, we don’t know what to do to protect ourselves from the monkeys. We secure our trash bins with metal wire and some villagers have even installed barbed wire to prevent the baboons from getting into their houses. Others have set up traps that give off electric jolts. I don’t approve of this method because I think it’s cruel; these animals are not violent, you just have to wave your arms in the air or yell at them for them to run off.“A dozen years ago, these monkeys never went into the cities”I feel bad for the farmers because their crops are often damaged. My neighbor recently had half of his grape crop destroyed. He set up scarecrows to frighten the baboons off, to no avail.A dozen years ago, these monkeys never dared to enter into cities because they were too afraid of humans. But along the roads and in small towns, people have gotten into the habit of feeding them. This practice encouraged monkeys to venture into inhabited areas. We haven’t gotten much help from the authorities to deal with this problem.
An electrified trap set up to catch baboons in Baha. Video uploaded to YouTube on September 5, 2012.