I live in Africa.
I don’t have lions in my back garden or a pet giraffe.
I live in a gigantic city in the heart of middle class suburbia.
About as far removed from the wild as you can get.
I do however live in the Republic of Crime Central.
So, when I see a humanoid figure in my garden, I call the security company and arm up. I am prepared for urban warfare. I know what to do. Cool, calm and collected in the face of some asshole who wants my flat screen TV.
What I am not prepared for is the wild.
When the shuffling figure stood up to over 5 feet and looked at me, he was not a random criminal at all, but a fully grown and extremely pissed off male baboon.
He should not have been there.
About then I realised that standing in an open door three feet away from this towering specimen of alpha-male ape was probably not a good idea, so I stepped back, closed the door and called the SPCA.
The SPCA did not answer.
The local vet said he didn’t know what to do.
The police said the same.
My dogs were quite keen to give it a go, but a baboon could kill my Staffie without breaking its stride. It was on of those rare occurrence when my dogs actually obeyed me and came inside where they pretended to be very fierce behind the safety of a closed door.
Finally, Free Me sent over a remarkable woman who has been tracking the baboon for over a week.
Free Me is a rehabilitation centre for urban wildlife. If you find a tortoise, a hedgehog, a bird or a baboon, they are the people to contact.
Nicci Wright looked about to drop from exhaustion. She’s tracked it from Petervale (where my mother saw it) all the way to my house where it enjoyed a ripe papaya before loping off to my neighbour’s.
So where did he come from?
Some think he may have been evicted from the Big Brother house. Male baboons can be unceremoniously kicked out the pack and he may have wandered down from the Magaliesberg mountains I see on a clear day in the far distance.
Sadly, what is more likely, is that he was brought into the city to use for muti and somehow escaped.
Baboons feature large in traditional medicine and our Government turns a blind eye to the extinction of our eagles and the abuse of baboons.
Somehow the flyers I collect from the side of the road from Mama Shaka don’t seem so amusing.
If you happen to see a stray baboon wandering around your garden, give Nicci a call on 083 558 5658.
To find more about Free Me and offer your support visit: http://www.freemewildlife.org.za/