For local hazards, Americans have pit bulls and bears. South Africans, because they think like National Geographic editors, have baboons and ostriches. Don’t be fooled. These aren’t cute and they aren’t sweet. They’re mean, dangerous and moody creatures. Or so I was told.
Take the case of baboons, for instance: driving around Cape Town, Cape Point and the Karoo, one would be hard pressed to ignore the presence of these odd primates. There are signs everywhere reminding more evolved primates of just how dangerous baboons are and warning against feeding them.
Sure, I thought, that’s a tourist trap, we’ll never see them. I was wrong. The first sighting was down on the Cape Point peninsula. I think I made Marie a little nervous by getting out of the car to take pictures; she was once chased into the ocean by a baboon. Can’t blame it, really. ;-) Then we saw them right by the side of the road, posing for pictures, in a very urban area. About 100 meters further down, on the same road, were the human members of the baboon control squad, sitting on rocks too, posing for pictures… I think everybody thought it was too hot to do more than that.
Now ostriches are a different deal. They do not normally roam in the wild and are raised, or rather farmed mostly in the Karoo. But they have a fierce reputation and I heard stories of them attacking and damaging a car. Even though equipped with a powerful beak, the flightless birds are mostly known for their amazing land speed and for tearing people apart with the sharp nail at the end of their forward kicking legs. The bottom line is, if the male’s beak is red, stay away or pay. Sweet things. :-)