Do lions roam the streets of South Africa?

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When I first came to the United States, people would ask me whether lions roamed the streets of South Africa. Sometimes I would say yes and that we kept them as pets and we also live in tree-houses. Truth be told, South Africa in general, is very much like any other developed country and the exotic wild animals can usually only be found in game reserves now…except for baboons. They are still able to roam freely in areas that are less populated.   You will often see troops of baboons along the roadside.

Chacma baboons can often be seen in and around Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town, South Africa. These baboons have adapted their habits to their changing environment and often take advantage of visitors that do not obey common-sense rules when visiting the park.

This leads us to The Baboon Incident. We were returning from a nice morning at Cape Point when we came upon a troop of baboons. There was a car stopped on the other side of the road and the passenger got out of the car to retrieve something from the trunk of the car (probably a camera). Unfortunately, she left the passenger door open and a large male baboon climbed into the car and sat in the backseat. He was obviously looking for food. The video starts with the baboon already in the backseat of the car.

Baboons are fun to watch and capture on film. Here are some tips if you encounter baboons.
  • If you know there are baboons in the area, do not carry food in your pack.
  • If you encounter baboons while hiking…
  1. and have food, get rid of it immediately. You do not want to wrestle a baboon for your day pack.
  2. stand relatively still
  3. do not get between a baby and it’s mother
  4. do not try to touch a baboon – they are wild animals
  5. do not approach baboons
  • When encountering baboons on the roadside, stay in your vehicle and keep the doors locked and windows up.
  • When leaving the site, drive slowly and carefully as baboons may have moved in front of your car while you were parked.

If you obey these tips you should be able to enjoy your baboon viewing experience with the greatest of ease. I have personally had a number of baboon encounters both on foot and in a car and have many great memories of these experiences.


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Will Swanepoel, owner, ELT

Hi, I'm Will Swanepoel, owner of Extraordinary Life Travel. Although I’ve lived in the USA since 1994, I regularly return to my native South Africa to visit family and old friends. I have crafted this South Africa Experience with care and attention to detail so that you fully experience the food, culture, sites, stories, and natural splendor my home country has to offer.

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