Nestled in the beautiful natural flora and fauna of Knysna’s Eastern Head lies Pezula Hotel. Considering its location, the estate is no stranger to playing host to mammals other than humans from time to time!
Baboons are popular in the area, and two baboons in particular seems to have taken a liking to Pezula, as they have almost become locals; making Pezula Estate their venue of choice! And honestly, who can blame them?
Pezula Golf Estate Manager, JJ, is known as Pezula’s ‘baboon whisperer’. He is comfortable interacting with the baboons, and has even given these ‘guests’ names!
We decided to find out a little bit more about these wonderful – albeit wild – guests at Pezula.
The first guest is Ms Sparrebosch. Ms Sparrebosch is known as the beauty queen of the estate. She’s gorgeous; and she knows it!
Ms Sparrebosch can often be spotted lounging about the estate, and especially has a liking for lounging on the golf course (naturally, that’s where she’ll have the biggest audience!).
So please, if you do happen to spot the incomparable Ms Sparrebosch lounging about the estate or on the golf course, do take a moment to snap a picture (she won’t charge you – she believes any publicity is good publicity, n’est-ce pas?). You are also more than welcome to add the picture on social media and tag Pezula Hotel – Ms Sparrebosch would appreciate it!
While Ms Sparrebosch is undeniably the Queen of Pezula, her partner (or, perhaps platonic friend) Bobby is the confident, macho, Alpha male.
Bobby is not shy about is Alpha male status (as most Alpha males aren’t…) and he will try and show you that he is the Alpha at any chance he gets.
It’s all about respect with Bobby: if, for some or other reason, you should find yourself in a confrontational situation with Bobby, the best would be to try and stand your ground – but don’t challenge him. On the other hand, if you run away, it’s almost certain that Bobby will chase you – because what Alpha doesn’t love the thrill of the chase?
However, JJ says that if you just stand your ground, he will more than likely just turn around and walk away. No thrill? No thanks.
While Ms Sparrebosch and Bobby are the two local guests, their troop is actually considerably bigger.
According to JJ, the entire baboon troop consists of about 130 baboons. Babies are born constantly, but unfortunately, only around 40% of them survive. This is because when an Alpha is kicked out of the troop, the new Alpha kills all the infants and reproduces to ensure his own bloodline’s survival.
Harsh, but that’s nature for you.
Now, while these animals may be pretty to look at and admire (from a distance), it’s important to remember that they are wild animals, and that us as humans should respect them.
JJ has given us some tips on how to react when you come across a baboon (or two, or three…) while visiting Pezula.
How to react & manage baboons:
Our behaviour and baboons: How can we help to manage baboons?
There are a few simple things we can do to reduce the attractiveness of our properties to baboons. These strategies involve removing (or rendering inaccessible) the things that attract baboons to our properties in the first place:
Apart from the above:
What to do when they are in your garden and Suite at Pezula
This actually applies to all animals. Baboons are far better at reading body language than we are, and if we come across as threatening, they will become nervous and unpredictable and may be more likely to become aggressive.
This is of course easier said than done, as it is obviously not easy to remain calm when you encounter a baboon in your house or car! But it is really important to do so. At the very least, when confronted by a baboon, lower your eyes and look at the ground in front of you. This will be less threatening to the baboon than staring directly at it.
Do not feed baboons
One of the biggest problems with the human-baboon interface is that baboons have learned that humans often carry food – and that this food is both easy to acquire and usually quite satisfying!
The result of this is that baboons now associate humans with an easy meal. Whenever possible, we must avoid reinforcing this. Every time a baboon is successful at getting food from a human, it just exacerbates the problem.
Thus, your first reaction upon seeing a baboon should be to hide your food and prevent the baboon(s) from seeing it or accessing it.
On the other hand, sometimes it is too late to do the right thing and you must simply minimize conflict. If a fearless baboon encounters you carrying food, he may try to take it away from you. In this case, it is probably best to simply let him have it.
Do not tease baboons
Some people like dangling food in front of a baboon. This is very dangerous. Do not deliberately provoke a wild animal? While baboons may look cute, they are not domesticated like dogs, and they will likely not respond well to food being hung just out of reach. Bottom line: this is a recipe for disaster.
Let the baboon have the bag
Many baboons have learned that backpacks and other bags contain food, and that humans will drop those bags at the least provocation, yielding a bounty for the baboon provocateur. If drive or walk around the estate and golf course area try not to bring any bags with you. If you bring a camera, carry it separately so that baboons will see that it is a camera and not food.
And if a baboon tries to physically take a bag from you, do not try to take it back as this is very likely to lead to aggression. Let the baboon have the bag! The baboon will eventually get bored with it – even more quickly if there is no food inside – and you can then go pick it up.