Learning to Love the Baboons of Big Baboon House

Written by Big Baboon House producer Darren Putter.

Having the opportunity to film baboons, one’s imagination quickly flitters to cartoons and comic books. And in a weird way that’s exactly how this shoot unfolded. The acrobatic antics of these little grey monsters soon catches everyone’s attention and you find yourself so engaged with the entertainment afoot that sometimes you forget that you are there to shoot a show.

Pringle bay is the most amazing village and we were really well received by the residents, both human and monkey. It seems that there is a real love affair with the residents and the baboons. There are no haters in this town, only lovers! For the most part it is only the holiday-makers who are frustrated with the baboons. The locals love them, name them and open their lives to them. They are very crafty little critters, and I couldn’t help thinking how frightening it would be if they where nocturnal. You wouldn’t see them coming and with the chilling screams and “wahoo”’s the town could quickly become a location for a Hollywood horror film. That being said, our time spent with the troop was incredible and while some of our experiments where totally wrecked by the persistent baboons, we learned a lot about respect for the wildness of nature, and the fact that we had entered their property and not the other way around.

PS: I’m a lover!


Watch all new episodes of Big Baboon House on Saturday, June 23rd beginning at 8P et/pt.



  1. Earnest Kingsley
    Cape Town, South Africa
    July 3, 2012, 6:15 am

    I am shocked that National Geographic have been so irresponsible in Pringle Bay. I attach an email I wrote a few weeks ago, which highlights what is happening in human-baboon behaviour. Your show therefore has put the Pringle troop in mortal danger.

    “I have been enjoying Pringle Bay for the last 15 years or so, and have had a property there since 2006. The baboons have been present, and bar the odd occasion where one has entered the house, it has been relatively easy to scare it away with a broom, chair or sjambok. I am writing to you to highlight the danger that baboons can cause when not controlled effectively. My wife, son and I visited Buffels Bay at Cape Point last Sunday and we witnessed the scariest baboon experience in our lives.
    About 30 metres away from our braai-area, two cars arrived and set up a picnic on a rug overlooking the sea. The party comprised of two men, two women and a few children. There was a period of enjoyment by all of us picnicking and braaiing at the seafront, until a troop of relatively small baboons surreptitiously arrived on our ‘neighbours’ picnic. There was much shooing and screaming, but the male baboon just plonked himself in the middle of the rug and started helping himself to the food, whilst the bemused picnickers tried to make sense of what was happening and how to scare the baboon away. The men in the group started shooing the baboon with cool-boxes and stuff lying around. He just bared his teeth and continued eating.
    The next bit was the worrying and scary part of the story.
    Other picnickers came to help: one guy came and threw a large stone at the baboon, which hit him. To my shock, the baboon did not cede (as they do in Pringle), but actually ran at the man and tried to bite him. The man ran for his life. Another helper arrived in his Land Rover, (all kitted out for overland travel), and threw a fake snake at the baboon. The baboon again ran at him, causing the man to run away. He returned with a catapult and started ‘shooting’ the baboon. Again the baboon tried to attack violently the guy with the catty, causing the whole group to just sit in their cars whilst rangers were called. During the whole process the baboon was sitting in the middle of the picnic rug, whilst 8-10 people encircled him and tried to move him along, with him attacking back when attacked. He even attacked a car that was being used to push him off the picnic rug!
    To me there was nothing the people could do. That is abnormal baboon behaviour; the only way to move the baboon would have been to have shot him, with a gun or a tranquiliser. He was not scared of anything, and when all the food was eaten the baboons moved on.
    If the baboons in Pringle start behaving like that, people will stop visiting, residents will arm themselves and chaos will reign. Whilst my family avoided the Buffels Bay drama, by packing all food in the car when we saw the baboons, and sitting in the car through the whole event, we will not be in a hurry to re-visit given the potential injuries that could have incurred if it had happened to us. I hope it will not get to that stage in Pringle.”

    Thanks National Geographic.

  2. Tracy
    Cape Town
    July 3, 2012, 6:41 am

    Your facts are ALL wrong! The residents are all so frustrated with the situation!!

  3. Toni Brockhoven
    Cape Town South Africa
    July 7, 2012, 11:05 am

    We have had a relentless conflict between humans and baboons for years, which has resulted in diminishing troops and ongoing adaptation as human development continues to encroach on their habitats. While some people have been able to sensibly live with the baboons in peace, others have been stubborn in refusing to live baboon friendly lives such as thwarting their attempts to get inot homes and rubbish bins, not leaving food visible etc. We have a problem of people feeding them, despite years of education and clear signage all around. The Chacma relies largely on learned behavior so they are highly adaptable to their changing environment. One way in which they have adapted is that they have learned that an easy and swift method of acquiring food is to steal it from humans and homes. The reaction and violent retaliation of humans to this has has caused a ripple effect through troop structures and social dynamics.
    Adult males lost through being shot by ‘the authorities’ means less protection available to juveniles, family groups and female allies. The important process of genetic mixing is thwarted when transient males are often labeled as “rogues” and murdered.
    A troop losing a male will acquire a new leader, which leads to a disruption of their social relationships, infanticide and sunsequent trauma. Even though the Chacma is listed on C.I.T.E.S (Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species); appendix 2, South Africa considers them a “problem animal” but they are beneficial to the environment for a number of reasons ; for example they disperse seeds through faeces, ensuring biodiversity and they have a symbiotic relationship with other species in their range. This incredibly irreponsible show has placed the Chacma in more danger, as it is ultimately they who will now suffer the consequences of this human arrogance and stupidity. The show is almost certainly going to ensure their progressive eradication, as they continue to be shot, poisoned and captured. Nat Geo should hang their collective heads in shame!