June 17, 2004

South African town suffers as living metaphor of Dubya's coup

'REUTERS -- Residents of a small South African coastal town are threatening to declare all-out war on baboons who have terrorized pre-schoolers, raided homes for food and urinated on clothes after pulling them out of closets.

'Diana Head, the chairwoman of the local taxpayers' association in Pringle Bay, an hour's drive east of Cape Town, told AFP that baboons broke into the local nursery school -- located in a church -- three times, using the same method. "The baboons lifted a window latch and stormed a church hall where the children were," she said. "They grabbed sandwiches and cold drinks out of the children’s hands. "The kids were traumatised afterwards. One teacher was so upset that she resigned." Head said baboons were breaking into houses about 15 times a month on average.

'"They have strong nails which they use to pull sliding doors off the hinges. When they get inside the houses they ransack the cupboard for food and have parties on the beds. "On a few occasions they have pulled clothes out of the cupboards and urinated on them."

'... Head said the problem escalated late last year when the head male in the baboon troop changed. "An alpha male who we named Charlie kept the troop under control but then he was replaced by a newcomer ..."'