07 April 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Rest in Peace, Infamous Fred

I like to think I once met Infamous Fred, the baboon.

He was seated on the surfboard roofrack of a surfer-dude small car, parked beside the curving swells of Cape Point. He looked casual, but his stillness betrayed his intent. All of a sudden he acted. He dived down, ripped the door open, entered the vehicle followed by his lieutenant. For a few dizzying moments the inside of the car looked as if it was being washed with grey fur from the inside. Then they were gone. One with a loaf of bread and the other had a jar of nutella.

Nutella-ape effortlessly avoided the screechy humans and sat down with an air of contemptuous power.

He flipped the white lid off and his eyes rolled backwards as he tasted the nutty sweetness.

If this wasn’t Fred, it was certainly a reasonable facsimile. Anyway, tragically Fred had to go. When he learnt how to open car doors by himself, it was only a matter of time. Now he’s gone, put to sleep by the authorities. Apparently his whole troop is in an uproar, with lieutenants all fighting for command.

The memory of Fred should haunt anyone who throws an apple core or a little bit of bread or a few crisps at a baboon. It is the beginning of the end for them. They get hooked on human food, and like junkies, they’ll do anything to get more of it, because it’s so concentrated. A baboon will need to forage for an entire day, eating little bits here and there - the nectar from a protea, bulbs, small lizards - but can get all that in one loaf of bread.

Category: Wildlife

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