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Beware the car-jacking baboon in Cape of Good Hope

There is baboon at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa that now has a taste for breath mints.


Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures from the road.

I had always dreamed of visiting the Cape of Good Hope and seeing the southern tip of the great African continent where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. The scenery was spectacular but what I really won't forget is the wildlife – one animal in particular.

At the entrance of the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve I saw a sign warning of dangerous baboons. I took heed, rolled up my windows and continued. As I drove further into the park I spied a family of baboons crossing the road led by a large male. I stopped, pulled out my camera and started taking pictures. The alpha male baboon walked (with a swagger) by the car and disappeared from my view.

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I stopped filming and was about to resume my trip when I heard the back door of the car open. In hopped Mr. Baboon. At this point my brain went into a brief "cannot compute" mode. Then things got worse.

The baboon hooped over into the front seat and was sitting beside me, close enough to smell his rancid breath. I jumped out of the car, joining the other baboons on the road. Tour buses passed, some stopped as tourists took the opportunity to film this baboon car-jacking, in progress. Cops drove by but nobody stopped to help me to reclaim my car. I went around the passenger side of the car, opening the door and inviting him to leave. I threatened to kick him out at which point he bared his teeth and hissed at me.

Eventually, he took the hint, but grabbed my jacket as he stepped out of the car and loped off down a steep slope. The jacket contained my passport, my credit card, my glasses and a pack of mints; these were all vital to hang on to (well, maybe he could keep the mints) so I chased the baboon down the slope. I managed to grab a sleeve of the jacket. The baboon, however, was not in the mood for tug-of-war and threatened me with his razor-sharp claws. I let go of the jacket and then he sat down, contented – I guess – that I had given up my property. He clawed open the pockets to examine the contents. He found my passport, sniffed it and threw it away. He crushed the metal glasses case with his powerful claws and threw away both the glasses and my credit card. Next he found the mints and proceeded to eat them one by one. Eventually, he finished the mints and wandered off into the hillside. His offspring moved in to claim to my jacket and gear but I was able to frighten them off, recover my stuff and sped off in my car, now wreathed in a post-baboon pong, to safety.

Should you visit the Cape, beware of the baboon with the minty fresh breath and lock your car doors!

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